The last few years have seen the emergence of a new generation of artists who are embracing stark honesty and personal reflection in a way that makes it entirely normal and part of the instinctive fibre of their artistry. Emotional intensity and openness is fundamental, but not in a way to shock or confect drama. Rather it’s real life in sharp focus, and few new artists are reflecting that with quite the same wit, emotional breadth and great songs as Orla Gartland.
Woman On The Internet is Gartland’s anticipated debut album following a couple of assured EPs released over the last couple of years, and it highlights just what an accomplished and all round artist she is. Gartland can do it all, from singer to songwriter to producer. Throughout the 11 songs she takes you on a ride through a wave of different moods and feelings which the music matches, veering from alt-rock via gentle folky laments to bright pop.
The record begins with Things That I’ve Learned, which builds from minimal, skitty percussive beats with Gartland’s fevered vocals on top, to a rousing cry at the end. It’s a trick that is employed throughout the album with thrilling effect each time, such as on the pop punk rush of Codependency or the yearning cry of Over Your Head.
Where the album really shines though is when Gartland’s melodies firmly take flight on its turbo charged pop bangers like the ebullient Zombie! and the gorgeous bop of More Like You.
While Gartland is clearly adept at melody and a winning chorus, at least part of the album’s success is down to the emotional resonance of her words. Much like an artist like Phoebe Bridgers, Gartland knows exactly when to drop a crushing turn of phrase with almost insouciant ease. She feels everything and puts everything into the music. “I’m so fucking self aware, it’s exhausting,” she sings on Pretending.
But that self awareness is what drives Gartland. From the knowing title on, this is very much a 21st century album attuned to the moment and times when people are going through periods of deep reflection. Orla Gartland recognises this and knows she’s just like the rest of us, embracing our imperfections and focusing on self care and emotional transparency. If you’re feeling the same way then this is a smart and considered alt pop record that cuts deep and promises a bright future for a new star.