Review Summary: A colorful artist at her most monochrome.
When Allison Weiss began making inroads into the indie pop scene with her 2013 sophomore record Say What You Mean
, it was hard to not be dragged along by the flurry of excitement that seemed to follow her everywhere she appeared. Charismatic and quirky, Weiss was a young woman determined to pull her way to the top using nothing but her bootstraps and a knack for writing some truly delightful pop punk songs. This narrative, however, began to imply something potentially dangerous for the young artist; that she would be an infinite source of wild, youthful energy. New Love
is a valiant effort to mature and grow as a musician, but one can’t help but feel that perhaps the buzz surrounding Weiss has begun to tire her out.
is front-loaded with a small batch of great pop songs, though. Who We Are
and Golden Coast
are both gentle summer tunes with pleasantly restrained electronics and vocal harmonies. New Love
is actually at its strongest when Weiss experiments with synth-pop textures, such as in the pop anthem that is Back To Me
, which seamlessly blends twinkling guitar leads with deliriously catchy synths. When Weiss allows her vocal performance to take a back seat to the instrumentation and let the music lead the way melodically she finds herself caught in several infectiously catchy songs, but, unfortunately, Weiss tries to carry much of the record with her voice and lyrics alone, a decision that quickly becomes tiresome.
It is the aforementioned lack of energy (creative and otherwise) that ultimately drags New Love
down. Weiss spends much of the album’s run time gracelessly going through the pop music motions. Songs like Over You
and Good Way
are as formulaic as pop music gets, with the latter showcasing Weiss at her poorest lyrically, choosing to settle for genre clichés (There’s never a good way to say goodbye/There’s never a right way to change your mind) rather than expand her poetic vocabulary. Weiss just does not demonstrate the dynamic vocal range needed to inject any kind of energy into most of the songs on New Love
. While her more restrained performances can be enjoyable (The Sound
), her attempts at bombast fall short every time. Motorbike
is most emblematic of this problem, with Weiss struggling to keep her voice under control while she tries in vain to add direction and flavor to a song that was aimless and bland from the start. It feels unfair to imagine what songs like New Love
or Counting Down
could sound like if a more accomplished singer was at the reins, but Weiss’ baffling vocal decisions make such speculation unavoidable.
Allison Weiss was certainly not in a favorable position when New Love
was to be released, her own energy and enthusiasm becoming her worst enemies. In choosing to grow as artist, she neglects to incorporate her unmistakable charisma in the record, leaving the listener with an album that is dry and uninspired. New Love
shows Weiss struggling to age gracefully, with only a handful of shimmering moments of creativity to show for it. It is a colorful artist at her most monochrome, it is the ache of maturity holding back the enthusiasm of youth. Brief forays into synth-pop aside, this is an album almost entirely devoid of personality and vigor, which might be the most damning thing one could ever say about an Allison Weiss album.