EP Review: Juliana Madrid – Afterlife

Fans of my music coverage over the past few years will know I’ve started to fall pretty hard for indie pop. Artists like Juliana Madrid have this incredible ability to capture emotions in a more atmospheric style. This EP Afterlife definitely does that, allowing Madrid‘s vocals to soar here. The lyrics are thoughtful, the melodies catchy, and the overall album is definitely a quality that we’re happy to support here.

“Afterlife” is the title track and opener, with a bright and exciting use of keys. The layered vocal elements give the song depth. The up tempo energy reminds listeners that indie pop doesn’t all have to be sad breakup songs; this is catchy, with tons of danceable energy.

The second track “Big Plans” sounds familiar and feels really good. The melody is reminiscent of Taylor Swift (in the best way possible). Other elements of the song feel like you’re listening to a friend tell a story. There’s an approachability and relatability to Madrid‘s writing style that make her music feel really comfortable on the ears.

“Satisfied” is a really fascinating song with a mature theme. It’s about a lost love, and, if I may, a little bit about immaturity and contemporary culture. Madrid reflects on her experience with a potential long term partner and the lack of fulfillment that comes from it. There’s a line in the chorus that really hits hard about contemporary love and relationship culture. It’s a brilliant piece of cultural criticism.

“Trackstar” and “White Montana” both bring a unique hard hitting energy. Where “Trackstar” is up tempo, “White Montana” is a bit more calm and reflective, yet both bring hard hitting reflective writing. The two show the contrasting styles in Madrid’s vocal, with the first being a bit more punctuated and expressive while the second swoons a bit more.

“Pixelated” has an explicit warning, which I think is worth mentioning here because it might be the most “in your face” track on the album. There’s attitude in this one and I’m absolutely here for it. The metaphor of a pixelated image, being disconnected and feeling fragmented comes across clearly. For our contemporary ultra-plugged-in world, this song feels particularly relevant.

The last track on the album brings us home with “Let the Light In,” which has a beautiful layered vocal harmony that works really well. The delicate harmony creates a sense of intimacy and connection. It’s a cathartic and beautiful conclusion to the album.

All told, I would say that the album is good from start to finish. Fans of indie pop, especially emerging indie pop, will find a lot to like here. It shows off Madrid’s songwriting chops and incredible vocal performance. This is definitely a powerful and engaging new indie pop album.

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