Album of the Week | Georgia: Euphoric

On her third album, the English singer/songwriter sounds more like herself than ever before

Music Reviews Georgia
Album of the Week | Georgia: Euphoric

On her sophomore album, 2020’s Seeking Thrills, Georgia tried her hand at genres as varied as industrial, dance and hip-hop simply because she had the chops for it. The British musician born Georgia Barnes can sing, rap, write, produce—and oh, by the way, she’s also a fierce drummer. So yes, she’s a musical virtuoso, but if there was one issue with Seeking Thrills, it was that Georgia struggled to fuse her absurdly broad skills and interests into one clear sound or thematic focus. Even though Georgia was creating her music all by her lonesome, how much of it was really her?

For her third album, Euphoric, Georgia brings in a co-producer for the first time and puts more of herself into her music. Rostam—the songwriter, former Vampire Weekend member and co-producer for HAIM, Clairo and Carly Rae Jepsen with his own intriguing releases—helps Georgia sharpen her longstanding proclivity for hooks and guides her toward straight-up pop, and his warbly, slightly hazy electronic programming enriches every inch of her melodies. The result is Georgia’s most consistent, ebullient album to date and an authentic representation of herself: As she dives into the life-affirming rush of pure sound, she comes off unbothered and effortless, like someone no longer interested in putting on appearances.

Much of Euphoric takes place in Georgia’s upper register, where she sounds like she’s continuously scaling the highest of heights. She starts album opener and quasi-title track “It’s Euphoric” in her gossamer, nasal falsetto: “It’s euphoric / When you’re standing next to me,” she repeats over an early-morning collage of thwacking percussion and gently bubbling electronics and bass. As she enters the chorus of the sparkling dream pop anthem “Give It Up for Love,” she lets out the sort of “ooh” that sounds like she’s riding a high-speed elevator to the top of a treble clef. The first time I heard the part of “Mountain Song” when the taut synths explode into a steamroller of a tremolo pulse as Georgia repeats “Shine on!”, I thought it was a Grimes feature—that’s how high-pitched Georgia often goes on Euphoric.

Notice the push toward transcendence in these lyrics: The album title is as on the nose as it gets. Georgia writes about how everyday moments—time spent in a park; waking up next to that special someone—create, reinforce and uplift love. “All I ever wanted was to dance with somebody,” she sings through thick sheets of vocoder on “All Night,” as the filtered beat bursts back to life amid ecstatic synths: For her, ordinary body movement is a bridge to connection. “We’ll take off all our clothes / And dive into the deep end,” she proclaims over the sprinting, exuberant production of “Friends Will Never Let You Go.” She finds zen in the little things, and sure, her lyrics don’t reinvent the wheel in any way, but the best pop artists have milked the same handful of tropes for decades to give us all pure bliss, and Georgia pulls off the same trick to great effect.

A couple of people besides Georgia and Rostam contributed to Euphoric. (Georgia, despite flying solo on her previous albums, has written songs with Shania Twain and been featured on Gorillaz and Mura Masa songs.) The instrumentalist William Orbit, perhaps best known for co-producing Madonna’s 1998 classic Ray of Light, is featured on “Give It Up for Love.” His work is presumably the funky little synth loop that slowly creeps out from under the song in its first few seconds; the pianos that emerge from the chorus like a plume of warm water, though, are likely Rostam’s tinkering. Closer “So What” sports a co-writing credit from Justin Parker, who has co-written big pop ballads like Lana del Rey’s “Video Games” and Rihanna’s “Stay.” This is what “So What” attempts to be, too, but Euphoric’s biggest crutch is that Georgia is less captivating on her slower songs—namely, this one and “Keep On.”

Euphoric absolutely works in its uptempo moments, though, because, when Georgia creates giddy pop music, she fully commits. Her hooks are simple yet powerful; her lyrics circle love, dancing, and everything in between; and her music is packaged in dazzling technicolor. The album is also a testament to Rostam and Georgia’s connection: Their musical chemistry is so rich that, on Georgia’s first collaborative album, she sounds more like herself than ever before. As she stitches her own euphoria together, one thread stands out the strongest: other people.

Sometimes, Max Freedman sits and writes about music, and sometimes, he just sits. Oh, and sometimes, he critiques, too. Follow him on Twitter and find his writing at Pitchfork, MTV News, The Creative Independent and, of course, here at Paste.

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