Alessia Cara’s breakthrough single “Here” has rather outlandishly been referred to as an anthem for introverts. Though it is laced with anti-social tendencies, it ultimately encompasses so much more about the never ending plights of the teenage mind.
“Here” is no bubblegum pop song, but it parades around a profound issue without the substance and musical quality to promote anything other than material obsessions and celebrity friends. Instead it is a relatable power ballad covered in an ambiguous haze, exactly like the young teens that it describes.
Cara artfully manages to maintain this foundation with her full-length debut album, Know-It-All. Cara’s wonderful voice aside, Know-It-All is actually a profound and enjoyable album. While the songs point more to the woes of teenagers, in a deeper understanding of the tracks, they encompass a greater notion of coming into one’s true self. The album is an artfully crafted illustration of becoming—discovering your true self with all the gritty flaws. The path is never perfect, and Cara is not trying to be perfect. But there is ultimately perfection in being oneself, and in many ways Know-It-All wonderfully encapsulates this imperfect perfection.
Similar to the unapologetic singularity of “Here” is “I’m Yours.” The title suggests banality, but it could not be more misleading. The track is witty and sophisticated. It’s a teenage love song with no sappy adoration. Cara’s voice also holds up quite well against a more upbeat ballad as she glides through each lively beat in the chorus with finesse and charm.
However, some of the tracks, like “Seventeen” and “Wild Things,” stray from Cara’s usual encapsulation of the awkward teen. The songs adopt a more socially inclined, rebellious tone, both lyrically and musically, but nevertheless, maintain Cara’s conscious message of being unapologetically unique. Yet, one faltering issue with the songs is that they are too much alike in sound. Lyrically, Cara does a superb job of distinguishing each ballad with its own distinct message. Nonetheless, in a very raw and rudimentary sense, “Seventeen” and “Wild Things” exhibit the same energetic beat and electric-pop background tones. In fact, a majority of the tracks are indistinguishably similar in regards to the music. While Cara certainly has a distinct style, the similarity of the songs encapsulates more of a musical problem than a stylistic one. However, Cara’s witty lyrics and mellifluous voice always shine through and leave a different mark on each track, alleviating what might otherwise be a pressing issue for listeners.
“Four Pink Walls,” is one of the most well-crafted pieces on entire album in regards to lyricism, sound, and the absolute stunning tone of Cara’s voice. The track’s hazy and jazzy atmosphere blends seamlessly with Cara’s smoky vocals. The track, like “Here,” is pensive and catchy, and truly sets Cara apart from her peers in the pop world. Cara critiques the generalization of youth while managing to avoid being cliche.
The song that truly encompasses Cara’s thesis statement in her exceptional musical essay that is Know-It-All is “My Song.” The song depicts Cara’s uncertainty about the future and her certainty about her ideas and dreams. It is sporadic, ambiguous, and yet perfect. Cara is no Joni Mitchell, and she knows this. For Cara it’s not always the bigger picture, but instead the smaller steps of growing into one’s own. Know-It-All is as much about its creator as it is the dazed youth that it resonates so effectively with. The album’s perfection and Cara’s blossoming genius is in its imperfect aspirations, rebellions, and randomness.
Featured Image By Universal Music Group