Reviews by mars
Madison Beer’s Life Support review: The pop songstress strikes gold on her hypnotic debut
Almost a decade since first entering the public eye, Madison Beer is finally here to unleash both her artistic vision and truth into the world.
The New York-born and LA-based singer-songwriter has navigated the ups and downs of the music industry since her first embrace with stardom back in 2012. After pop megastar Justin Bieber discovered her YouTube channel and cover of Etta James’ “At Last,” Beer signed with manager Scooter Braun at Island Records. She was originally positioned as a Disney-adjacent darling and released a series of singles catered to her tween audience. None ultimately stuck the landing on the Billboard charts, but her introduction to fame and social media savviness built her a loyal fanbase. Beer now reveals that these releases were unauthentically her, an inaccurate representation of her desired artistry. After leaving her label and management, Beer dropped 2018's As She Pleases EP with hit single "Home with You," which saw moderate success despite being an independent artist. Since signing to Epic Records in 2019, Madison has taken the reigns of her career and is finally welcoming fans into her world with her long-awaited debut album.
Life Support (released February 26, 2020) is a passionate emotional expression that covers mental illness and reflects toxic love. Beer’s vulnerability shines bright on Life Support when paired with her incredibly honest lyricism. When discussing how she named the album, Madison states that the body of work “kept [her] alive” through times of depression and coming to terms with her borderline personality disorder diagnosis.
Wrapped in alt-pop and synth textures are Life Support’s 17 tracks, each of which showcases an aspect of the true Beer - a woman ready to reveal her long-awaited story to the world. The alt-pop and spacey “Effortlessly” depicts Beer’s struggle with mental illness and experiences with medication while album highlight “Selfish” is a gorgeously haunting performance of lost trust and a reflection on betrayal. Its vocal production, harmonies, and lyrics transcend and work together to convey an audible sense of true heartbreak.
Life Support also pays homage to Beer’s musical influences. The Tame Impala-inspired “Sour Times” is a fresh breeze of psychedelic rock and opens the gates to where Beer can venture next in her career. The double whammy of “Default” and “Follow the White Rabbit” is a one-two punch of vulnerability leading into an “Alice in Wonderland” dreamscape that has elements of Rihanna painted all over it. One can hear hints of Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish sprinkled throughout the album’s vocal stacks and luscious harmonies, and the Radiohead-inspired “Stained Glass” highlights Madison’s ability to genre shapeshift and mold her vocals to both a variety of styles and emotions. “Blue,” which achieved prominent placement on some of Spotify’s most visited playlists, is a nostalgic goodbye to a tarnished relationship. “We were like a California sunset, fated to die any minute,” sings Beer on a very Lana-esque vocal performance that allows her to effortlessly flow through the lyrics.
Other bodies of work with such a diverse genre roster may be critiqued for its lack of consistency; however, Life Support succeeds through a true connection between an artist and her vision. The stories and internal battles shared across the record present a rawness not often seen in pop music and also tap into the struggles felt by many throughout the global pandemic.
Whether it’s a craving for affection on the infectious “Baby” or the reflection of pain on “Everything Happens for a Reason,” Life Support is a body of work that intelligently navigates the emotional spectrum - and, after many years of anticipation, is certainly worth the wait.
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NY-based, 26-year-old, music-obsessed and loves to write about it.