Whimsical laughter echoes throughout the room as Melanie Martinez’s album Cry Baby playsat full volume. Amongst the symphony of sounds are the dripping of water, the popping of bubbles, the tinkling of bells, and the stunning high notes of Martinez’s honey-coated voice.Your eyes flutter then close, enticed by the music into a tranquil slumber. Visions of an enigmatic, eccentric wonderland flash behind your eyelids. Within this curious land are March hares and mad hatters, colorful carousels spinning around and alphabet building blocks scattered and strewn about. Swirling amidst this serene dream are hues of an underlying, lurking, twisted darkness with thundering notes that manage to conceal themselves. A horrifying thunderstorm of wickedness carries on throughout, cloaked by the innocence of a baby blue sky and cotton candy clouds. As you arrive at the end of the dream you are struck by a bolt of black lightning, transferring chilled, rippling sensations of cold-blooded grimness to your previously thumping, compassionate heart.
You awake tingling in anticipation that should have passed long ago and are tempted to fall back into the clutches of such wonderful slumber as you had just experienced. That is the immensely alluring web that Melanie Martinez weaves in her debut album, Cry Baby.
The album was released recently on August 14, 2015 by Atlantic Records as a collection of pop songs inspired by folk and hip-hop. Although that classifies it as pop, Martinez’s album surpasses bland expectations in ways you wouldn’t think possible. Her love for poetry and song writing combined makes for quite an intriguing style that is only heightened by her fascination and use of “toy noises” throughout the tracks she includes. The songs share the common trait of an uplifted tune and within them have an orchestra composed oflight and airy sounds, like wind chimes shifting in the caress of the breeze. An underlying theme of eerie, gruesome darkness carries throughout despite the whimsical imagery procured by the vivid lyrics in each song. Martinez’s Lana Del Ray/Lorde-like vocal style contributes to the songs in a sense that it both completes it and compels the listener to fall into a secluded slumber.
With 16 tracks, Cry Baby debuted at number 6 on the Billboard 200 with an astounding 40,000 units sold in its first week. Along with also debuting at the top of the Alternative Albums Chart, it received countless positive reviews from stations like ABC News, which gave it 4.5 stars out of 5 while contributing the following praise, “This is a jarring, affecting record that will stick with you days after listening. It’s not for passive listening. It is a rare pop record that is both catchy beyond belief and an artistic triumph.” The claim is undoubtedly true as the entirety of the album takes on a unique, never-before-heard-of rhythm and tone while ultimately inviting you to a riveting internal struggle that is conveyed by the exquisitely crafted lyrics. They give immense insight into what would appear to be a “perfect” life and examine its flaws. At the same time, they express and furthermore encourage the embrace of an emotional mindset that can at times be vulnerable rather than to cower behind a porcelain doll face, free from imperfections.
The album follows a tragic but rather intriguing storyline that was essentially fabricated by Melanie Martinez herself. Crybaby, which in one interview Martinez claimed to immensely relate to, is the main character that the album follows throughout its duration. The song “Cry Baby” is the introduction to her character, and it pries into the depths of her sensitive, innocent mind and how she deals with a series of unfortunate situations. Crying seems to be her sole escape from what goes on around her, as she is too weak emotionally to do much of anything else. “Dollhouse” and “Sippy Cup” review Crybaby’s difficult family life and the figures she is surrounded by that don’t pertain to her household (such as friends and boyfriends). The story continues as she finds her first love interest in “Carousel.” This track in particular is significant to the album as it reflects most deeply in a lyrical sense of Martinez’s desired outcome as she wrote the album with songwriters Kinetics and One Love in New York. In one interview with Kimi Selfridge from Noisey Music by Vice, Melanie Martinez explains “Carousel” and how she envisioned it with the following: “I wanted it to be kind of magical to capture those first love feels, but still express the dark side of how toxic and kind of one-sided the relationship was.” Crybaby goes on to experience the hurt of breakup, the difficulty of moving on, newfound love, a tragic incident, and her ultimate transformation into a cold, indifferent persona.
Cry Baby, Melanie Martinez’s first work of art is a superb blend of multifarious distinct sounds and various unique elements that complimentMartinez’s soft, fluttering, smooth tone. Each song guarantees deep lyrical value and will send chills of pleasure down your back with its unusual choices of rhythm and other select sounds. Martinez certainly deserves recognition for her work as it is unique from anything else that’s currently playing on the radio.
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