When your debut single is a strong but catchy alt-pop number that straddles something you’d find on a radio versus something you’d find die-hard alt-pop people loving too – sometimes you wonder quite where that artist is going to veer towards. Stephanie Mabey taught me a valuable lesson at the end of 2016 that you can do both and be your own artist in your own mini straddle genre.
Her EP is crammed with five distinct flavours. “Heart Shaped Hologram” has a mild nod to Amanda Palmer’s cabaret rock but the track itself stays more in the pop sensibility with piano, organs and gramophone scratches pulling a more urban tone. However, just because its catchy, it does make it bad. Mabey reminds me of Sia in many ways. She doesn’t really stick to a specific sound of genre, but she’s busy merging other genres into her own version of pop. The title track is superb. Her bold use of weird minor chords for the main verses before it bursts into an ethereal smash of vocals for the main chorus. The production is superb – merging the warmth of organic instruments like pianos and gong cymbals with more electronic glitchy elements. How this was not a radio smash hit I have no idea. It will be when I get my radio station open! When stripped back though Mabey has a timeless quality to her song writing. “Til You Say So” showcases this really well with a more traditional piano based track but even then the organ, string and brass swells that filter in and out are like a splash of lemon to sharpen a dish. “Unstoppable” is a sister track to the title one. It follows some of the same vocal tricks but with more of a band and percussive edge to things. It’s just as catchy and radio friendly as it channels the feeling of redemption and breakthrough which is the main empowering theme in the record. The closing track is a more laid back synth pop number that’s more smooth and chilled that the rest.
It’s a fine EP to kick off a music career and shows great pop sensibilities with something a little deeper for those that need it. In a world where people who think Sia is so nuts there couldn’t be anything else as weird for many mainstream music lovers, Stephanie Mabey has you covered for more, but without the theatrics. This is just great music.
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