By Staff Writer Isabella He
After debuting her first single, “Shattered,” seven years ago, Astrid S finally released her first full-length album on October 16. The pop star rose to fame on the Norwegian version of reality show Pop Idol in 2013 and went on to collaborate with massive artists including Shawn Mendes, The Vamps, Zara Larsson, and Troye Sivan.
Astrid S With Shawn Mendes and James TW
With sold-out headline world tours and a 2018 Norwegian Grammy Award nomination, expectations for Astrid S’ debut album Leave It Beautiful were gut-wrenchingly high. Astrid S’ success came from consistently delivering addictive hit songs such as “Hurts So Good,” “Think Before I Talk,” and “Someone New” that had millions hitting the replay button. Her infectious and structurally dynamic pop ballads garnered her a following and propelled her to the spotlight.
While glimpses of Astrid S’ signature sound are found sparsely throughout the album, her adherence to current pop trends overshadows the dreamy vocals and addictive soundtracks that she is known for.
Tracks such as “Marilyn Monroe,” “Airpods,” and “Hits Different” fall flat with one-dimensional lyrics, repetitive beats, and unambitious song arrangement.
“Mhm, mhm, mhm, mhm/ Dam, di, di, dam, dam,” Astrid S sings repeatedly in the bland chorus of “Airpods.”
The lack of catchy lyrical hooks and underwhelming beats leave listeners desperately craving the exhilaratingly upbeat and experimental sounds from her previous material.
Overproduction masks Astrid S’ light, whimsical notes and leaves her silky smooth vocals lost in the mix. In “Hits Different,” the third song on the album, the monotone and robotic soundscape makes for a superficial song that any other artist could have made.
While Astrid S’ tracks follow the formula of chart-toppers with static harmonies and repetitive structures, the sacrifice of her unique bouncy pop style makes Leave It Beautiful a forgettable album.
Despite being an underwhelming release overall, there are a few refreshingly impressive tracks on the album that remind Astrid S’ audience of the reasons why her album was so anticipated.
Astrid S’ angelic voice shines in the tracks with simple acoustic production. For instance, gentle guitar strums and peaceful instrumental layers accentuate her captivating vocals in stand-out tracks “It’s OK If You Forget Me” and “If I Can’t Have You”. The vulnerable lyrics leave listeners feeling bittersweet about leaving relationships and show maturity in Astrid S’ music that is lacking in other tracks on the album.
“But I’ll tell you what the worst is/ It’s the way it doesn’t hurt/ When I wish it did,” Astrid S sings in “It’s OK If You Forget Me”. She evokes a feeling of beautiful melancholy with the poignant message on a new perspective on relationships that explores wishing for sadness after heartbreak.
In “Dance Dance Dance,” Astrid S invites her audience to let go of their pain, singing “Just for one night, I’ll try to let go…/Everything will be okay in the end.” She extends that message on leaving troubles behind through to the final track on the album “Leave It Beautiful” and tells listeners “Let’s let it go/ And leave it beautiful.” Such moments of honesty and relatability demonstrate Astrid S’ lyrical talent and potential to create music that inspires and resonates with her audience.
The album’s highlights, however, are eclipsed by mainstream soundtracks and repetitive lyrics, giving the album a lackluster aftertaste. Leave It Beautiful fails to demonstrate Astrid S’ star potential as a singer-songwriter.
Cover image courtesy of astrisofficial.com