Embracing A New Persona: Melanie Martinez’s "Portals" Marks the End of An Era
In an alternate reality of fairy goddesses, death, life, and rebirth, lies Melanie Martinez’ latest album "Portals." Shedding her Crybaby persona, she has embraced a new character, that offers a fresh take on where she wants her music to head next. This album marks the end of the Crybaby trilogy, and while fans were initially surprised by her new four-eyed fairy goddess look, she is creating an album more personal than her others. Recalling back instances in her own life, spilling outrage, sadness, contentment, and love through her own personal recollections, Martinez has given us an insight into what she has gone through.
The album opens with "Death" and "Void," two tracks that showcase Martinez's unique style and vision. Both songs lead into one another, creating a dark atmospheric means between life, death, and rebirth through the fuses of pop-rock and punk. "Void" is especially notable as the first song that Martinez produced alone. She delves into the concept of losing a part of oneself that never truly leaves, and many other internal struggles that she and others have had to act on. The hard thumping of bass, instantly creates this dispiriting tempo, up until Martinez’s energetic voice comes into contrast. This battle between the production and the singer’s lively voice intertwines into a musical battle of surviving one’s own mind.
Martinez uses ambient sounds like waterfalls, birds, and even her own menstrual cramps to help listeners envision the world she has created. There is a more upbeat outlook on her evolved personality and the love she has found for herself and others. As one of her first love songs since "Training Wheels" back in 2015, ”Light Shower” dives into seeing that light at the end of the tunnel, and only needing the company of a guitar to evoke that feeling. She sings beautifully with the guitar's melody, merging together to create a soft and heartfelt track about this light, and finding out that it has turned out to be someone close to her.
My personal favorites on the album were “The Contortionist,” “Evil,” and “Battle Of the Larynx.” These tracks express a deep-seated resentment towards someone, for what they have done to Martinez. "The Contortionist" is especially powerful, with the lyricism unfolding the story of someone bending over backward for someone else, despite not being accepted for who they truly are. We begin with the plucking of violins, supporting the sound of Martinez’s soft voice, describing how she has bent herself into different ways for this person. She dives headfirst into the sounds of bones cracking, and her own voice bouncing back and forth with one another, adding a layer of tension and realization that she does not want to keep breaking herself to become something that she’s not.
The album closes with "Womb," a track that personifies the means of the album. Martinez speaks of growing from one's past self, ready to show the world the new person they have become. Ending on this track, we come full circle from “Death”, where we have endured a departure from life, remembering our experiences of anger and love, and finally growing into someone completely new. "Portals," has created a personal masterpiece that showcases Martinez’s growth as an artist over the years. Listeners will not only enjoy this breathtaking adventure but also be inspired to embark on their own journeys of self-growth.