- Kathleen Maurer
Album Review: "Not In Chronological Order" by Julia Michaels.
Julia Michaels released her first studio album titled, Not In Chronological Order. She was originally known for several of her previous EP's such as Nervous System, Inner Monologue Part 1, and Inner Monologue Part 2. Although these EP's were stellar, the album fell short.
Not In Chronological Order starts with the song, "All Your Exes". This song had a heavy emphasis on a plucking acoustic guitar but then breaks into her more familiar pop sound filled with an electric guitar and a heavy build up discussing how she wishes that all of her current partner's "exes were dead". The song then falls into its sound with a pretty simple drum beat and quite boring lyrics. The song is repetitive and could have been cut in half.
Track 2, "Love is Weird", follows the same theme as the first song; acoustic guitar and a simple verse that leads to a build of accumulating instruments leading to a simple drum beat and chorus. The song talks about how love is weird because there are so many different emotions that come from it. She discusses how it can be the reason you alive or the reason you can't get out of bed in the morning because you are so depressed. The song again is pretty repetitive but at least it is much shorter than the first song.
Track 3, "Pessimist", is much better than the first two songs. The beginning starts off with a short intro and then immediately goes into the main melody of the song. There were notes of a plucked electric guitar that made the song very bouncy and pleasant. Michaels sings "you took a pessimist and turned me into something else" showing how her current partner helped to alleviate some of the hopelessness that she felt towards the world.
Track 4, "Little Did I Know", has much more of a heartfelt feeling to it. She uses a piano backed melody and a small set of strings to accompany the choir like harmony describing how little she knew about love. She describes how her past loves felt "Shakespearian" and tragic but this one is uplifting and relieving.
Track 5, "Orange Magic", was quite forgettable. There was just nothing special about the song. She has the same style of simple intro and built up chorus with some synthesized instruments, prominent drums, and soft, almost muffled vocals.
Track 6, "Lie Like This", was a little more lively than the other songs in the album. It has a synthesized keyboard that creates an easy to dance to melody and clap like drums that create a night club like beat. The lyrics are pretty confusing. I can't really tell what the song is talking about. Michaels sings about "never stopping or going slow" but then talks about how she "can't resist whenever we lie like this". I don't know if they are lying about how good the relationship is or about what they are saying to each other. It just doesn't make much sense to me.
Track 7, "Wrapped Around", fell back into the same pattern of soloed intro and then build. However, the chorus does have a much better sound that is built from a smooth bass and gentle electric guitar. The song is a lot faster than the other songs and even sounds a little rushed which makes sense for a 2 minute and 42 second song. The lyrics discuss how she revels in the thought of how annoyed her ex is now that she has moved on from them.
Track 8, "History", has a folky like guitar that she uses to accompany the dozens of questions she asks her partner to get their "history because they could be history in the making". The song is really simple and has a gentle piano pop in a couple times throughout the song.
Track 9, "Undertone", goes back to that too fast tempo that just feels rushed. There is also a clicking in the background of the melody that just throws me off. In the song, Michaels sings "every time I find somebody new, I hope that the memory of you will leave me alone but you're always an undertone". She describes the feeling of wanting to just let go of her past ex but for some reason, they just keep lingering in her mind.
Track 10, "That's The Kind Of Woman", goes back to that folk sound of "History" but with a greater depth to it. She includes a gentle set of strings with an emphasis on cellos and basses to add a deeper and more somber sound. The song sings about all of the attributes in a woman that she loves in herself. Michaels sings "If the me I am walked out that door, that's the kind of woman I'd leave me for". Although it has a very sad tone to it, the lyrics are sentimental and sweet.
All in all, Not In Chronological Order just did not make much sense. Some of the songs were really repetitive and others felt like they were just racing to finish. The slow songs were too slow and a lot of lyrics in the songs didn't make sense. I think that although I do like the message of navigating love, the entire piece just was not very cohesive. I would not recommend this album.