‘Feral Girl Summer’ may be drawing to a close, but this is only the beginning for Maisie Peters.
Photo Credit: Maisie Peters - 'You Signed Up For This' official album artwork
The opening line of the title track from Maisie Peters’s stunning debut is, “I am twenty and probably upset right now”, an incredibly raw and relatable opener for an incredibly raw and relatable debut album from one of pop’s best emerging artists. And whilst it’s a great introduction as to what exactly it is that we have signed ourselves up for, I highly doubt she’s upset right now considering the immense hype that she has found surrounding her, being the recipient of a tweet from the Taylor Swift and finding herself signed to Ed Sheeran’s record label, Gingerbread Man Records. Oh, and the fact that she has just dropped one of the greatest, most resonant heartbreak albums of this year. No big deal.
The album really is a whirlwind of a journey, exploring the highs and the lows of growing up in the 21st Century, and the sonic elements of the album really reflect this, with Maisie switching between plucked acoustic numbers (Hollow), to synth-led power bops (Psycho) to finding middle ground between singing and spoken word (I’m Trying (Not Friends)): the album incorporates a little bit of everything that Maisie has been influenced by.
Lead single, John Hughes Movie, perfectly encapsulates what it is to be a teenager being let down by crushes, prom being a bit less extravagant than expectations previously implied and romanticising your life in accordance to the stuff that you’ve seen on TV. Lyrically it’s confident and outspoken and sonically, the synth line has that of an 80s quality, something that feels incredibly apt considering the content of the track.
Like the track that came previously, but in a complete turn of musical genre is Outdoor Pool, also framing what it is to be young and trying to navigate your way around first love, crushing on people in your form and watching on as relationships unfold around you. Primarily, this is a soft, acoustic track, however the beat of the second chorus really elevates the song to new heights, giving it a bit more of a feel-good vibe and presenting the potential to be able to have a little dance to it (whilst crying over your crush that isn’t reciprocating your feelings, obviously). It has quite a nostalgic feel to it, potentially because thematically it has a real early Taylor Swift aura to it.
Psycho oozes with confidence, with its poppy hooks and radio ready chorus of instant appeal, reflecting on a toxic relationship, whereas primarily acoustic track lain with soft, delicate vocals, Hollow, offers up a more personal moment, especially with some of its lyrical content (“I wish you’d make me feel beautiful”). Whilst some of the songs within this album showcase the musical direction that Maisie is now bounding in, with their big, confident choruses and polished production, this track in particular feels as though it is an ode to some of Maisie’s earlier releases, mostly with their whirling, reverbed acoustics, proving that despite her pop-stardom heights, she’s still the same girl-next-door from Brighton. It’s the perfect paradigm of the standard of tracks that Peters continuously puts out to her equally as powerful army of dedicated fans.
Remaining on the topic of sentimental and raw numbers is Brooklyn, a really sweet track outlining the first holiday Maisie took alone with twin sister, Ellen. “If you’re looking for the girl of your dreams, she’s in Brooklyn with me”, Maisie sings on the refrain in her distinct, delicate vocals, leaving you wishing you were also blessed with a twin. Looking back on the songs that have come prior from Peters, it could be described as the love child between 2017’s Place We Were Made, and Personal Best, the beautiful closer to 2019 EP, It’s Your Bed Babe, It’s Your Funeral. Oh, and if you think the song itself is gorgeous, then the music video is going to make you sob. (Lucky for you, it's linked below, because I’m good like that).
Listening through the album as a whole, one of the recurring themes is daydreaming and romanticisation. Elvis Song reminisces on the good times as a coping mechanism for the breakdown of a relationship, and really captures the quality of Maisie’s vivid way of storytelling through lyrics (“Late nights in the old arcade, drinking cheap wine as Elvis plays”). Talking To Strangers and Volcano both have the same soft vocal and strong lyricism elements to them, and in a way, all three tracks have a nostalgic feel and have been described so clearly, that you get to experience it all vicariously through Maisie’s memories. In an age where it’s more comforting to live inside your own head, the level of romanticisation within this album is fully endorsed.
The three quarters of an hour collection pulls to a close with the help from piano led ballad, Tough Act, offering a much more mature tone in comparison to previous tracks, in particular, Villain, which is a bit more of a petty and borderline-obsessive take on a break-up (“whole town’s gonna hear how you messed me up”). It bodes a similar musical standard to those within debut EP, Dressed Too Nice For A Jacket, and in that sense, can be listened to as a celebration of how far Maisie has come in such a short space of time, but also of what we can expect to hear from her next. It’s a powerful closer to a perfect debut.
As I reach the end of an album that I’ve been anticipating for the past couple of years, all that I really have left in me to say is that I’m so glad that I signed up for this, and if you still haven’t, then you are fully missing out. It’s Maisie Peters’s world, and we’re just living in it.