Julia Michaels
Nervous System


2.5
average

Review

by Brostep EMERITUS
August 3rd, 2017 | 13 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: On and on and on

Julia Michaels is the Next Big Thing, or the Current Big Thing who’s poised for greater heights, or the Genius Songwriter who’s finally following in the footsteps of her Genius Songwriter compatriots in seizing a portion of a spotlight for herself that she’s created for countless other pop stars. Or at least that’s what the interminable wash and endless spin cycle of the great big PR machine is saying, reportage and thinkpiece and reflection upon reportage and thinkpiece and reflection tumbling weightlessly on top of each other to a point where any individual piece is only really distinguishable from each other in the quality of the writing or reporting. Look at profiles and reviews from dozens of outlets, from the New York Times to Billboard to Bustle, each of which says in different words pretty much the same thing: Michaels wrote for Bieber and Selena, is striking out on her own, and sings about imperfections and confessions and generally “real” things. It’s as though Republic Records gave each journalist writing about the performer a bingo card of buzzwords and told them to draw tiles until they had five in a row, then include each buzzword covered in their piece.

The monotony in Michaels’ critical coverage is kind of a bummer, because at best her music is a refreshingly blunt take on mechanically off-kilter pop, but it kind of fits Nervous System, which is unfortunately fairly monotonous itself. For a writer as typically inventive and unconventional (at least for the Hot 100) as Michaels, the EP is pretty paint-by-numbers electro-pop. Barring the occasional peak (“Uh Huh” is a fucking banger) and trough (the deeply uncomfortable chorus of “Pink” achieves exactly the opposite of the ASMR effect Michaels’ whispers sound like they’re going for), Nervous System is pleasant, and that’s about it. Mattman & Robin, who produced most of the EP, do a fairly good job of sucking Michaels’ individuality out of everything they touch after track two, and the resulting package is vacuum-packed, touches of individuality apparently too wasteful to include. It’s a little at odds with the lyrical content on board, but the seven songs’ worth of declaring her messiness feels rote and tired by the end too.

One critical appraisal of Michaels, written by The Ringer’s Rob Harvilla, is headlined “Julia Michaels Could Be The Pop Star That You Want.” Part of the perniciousness associated with pop stars molding themselves to “what we want” is the loss of inefficient individuality, quirks that might not resonate with enough people ironed out for maximum appeal. I don’t think that’s quite happening with Michaels, but enough of Nervous System feels indistinct enough that I worry her vibrant artistic voice - which, granted, we at least see on the EP’s first two tracks - might get squashed as she moves along to wider audiences. In that sense, the routineness of the coverage she’s received is less a reflection than a portent: the bigger she gets, the less her she gets, and the more the range of opinions one could have about her converge. Here’s hoping Michaels distinguishes herself from the cavalcade of identical takes before it’s too late.



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user ratings (10)
Chart.
2.6
average

Comments:Add a Comment 
Brostep
Emeritus
August 3rd 2017


4314 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

didn't edit this review so lemme know where I fucked up plz

AsleepInTheBack
August 4th 2017


5206 Comments


Neat review, touches on a few interesting big picture concepts whilst still doing all that a review needs to

Brostep
Emeritus
August 4th 2017


4314 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

tyty!

klap
Staff Reviewer
August 4th 2017


11776 Comments


cool, was interested in this. will spin the singles

Digging: Violents and Monica Martin - Awake and Pretty Much Sober

tommygun
August 5th 2017


26715 Comments


issues is absolutely disgusting

nice rev

Brostep
Emeritus
August 6th 2017


4314 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Cheers all

wwf
August 7th 2017


5702 Comments


I like Issues a fair bit, prob will check this

She's probably no Dua Lipa tho

Digging: Julien Baker - Turn Out The Lights

ianblxdsoe
August 7th 2017


1406 Comments


yooooooa will review hell yeah, nothing i've noticed seems off about it man :-) great review, might check this out of curiosity anyways

Brostep
Emeritus
August 7th 2017


4314 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

:]

Asdfp277
August 8th 2017


16134 Comments


"It’s as though Republic Records gave each journalist writing about the performer a bingo card of buzzwords and told them to draw tiles until they had five in a row, then include each buzzword covered in their piece."

like what happened to rihanna?

Green Baron
August 8th 2017


24130 Comments


didn't she co-write Heavy

Brostep
Emeritus
August 9th 2017


4314 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

@asd yeah, and a shit ton of other artists, but either Michaels' coverage is way worse or she's the first one I've really spent energy following idk



and yeah @green

Toad
August 11th 2017


1531 Comments


The lyrics on Issues are so cliched and tumblrcore blerg

Digging: GFOTY - GFOTYBUCKS



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