Review Summary: As fleeting as a snow angel.
It’s 2023, and Reneé Rapp is ready to become the next actress turned pop star. Her debut, Snow Angel
, has everything one would hypothetically expect from an album in the vein of singers such as Olivia Rodrigo or Billie Eilish. Rapp shows that she is capable of dynamics and has a sense of humor with a touch of acid wit. She demonstrates that she can sing quite well. The arrangements themselves are, while never particularly incredible, never bad. There’s just one itty-bitty, minor, almost dismissible detail that sort of, kind of, maybe derails the whole album—it’s, well, you know… really forgettable.
Phew, okay now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let me explain a little bit. Snow Angel
is a perfectly capable album that is listenable from start to finish. It is never bad. I can’t point to any songs that I simply couldn’t listen to when I went through the album again. There are certainly tunes that are better than others, such as “I Hate Boston,” or “Poison Poison,” where all of the pieces that make a good pop song seem to be in the right places. Rapp’s performance itself is solid, if unremarkable. She relies much more on her sometimes dark, sometimes funny, mostly interesting delivery rather than actual singing chops to get the job done, and for the most part it works just fine.
There is a wide sampling of variety, probably meant to showcase Rapp’s ability to shift between slick, bouncy pop and melancholy ballads. “Talk Too Much” and “Pretty Girls” feature neat bass lines, catchy hooks and infectious melodies, whereas “Snow Angel” and “I Wish” are probably meant to be Rapp’s answer to songs such as “Driver’s License.” While Rapp’s delivery is not as powerful as Olivia Rodrigo or as layered as Billie Eilish’s, her lyrics and emotion are certainly fine and of a relatively acceptable standard.
So now we will return to my half-baked thesis statement decrying this album as merely another blip in the burgeoning TV actress-turned-singer industry. While none of the album is bad particularly, none of it stands out. It’s about as safe as sitting next to a warm fire with your doors locked in a gated community. There is no song on this album that stands out beyond any other song. It aimlessly drifts from track to track without ever offending the listener but without ever doing anything notable either.
In addition to being unremarkable, Rapp and her production team make the mistake of trying to showcase Rapp’s talent instead of making a thematically unified album. Result? The album is a mish-mash of ballads, watered-down pop tunes and angst. The constant see-saw between slick pop and piano or guitar-driven ballads exemplify the lack of thought that was put into the album’s structure. I realize I can be quite particular about this point, but truly great pop albums are, quite in addition to being chock full of killer singles, actual albums
. The lack of cohesion on Snow Angel
is noticeable and only adds to the ultimately uninteresting feel of this album.
None of this is to say that Reneé Rapp isn’t talented or that this couldn’t have been a better album—it just isn’t. I’m sure with a some tweaks, Rapp’s next outing has the potentiality of being significantly better. Unfortunately the title of this one is ironically fitting, it's fun while you're listening, but disappears about as fast as a snow angel.