When I spoke to Phoebe Green last month, she expressed some trepidation about the reception to her forthcoming album. She needn’t have worried. Yet, in truth, when you’re as self-reflective as Phoebe, that was the probably the inevitable way she’d be feeling — and it’s exactly where we find her on this brilliant debut.
Questioning, self-aware and willing to push boundaries, she tackles heartache and life’s perennial questions with aplomb. (Even if many of them can’t be answered). You’re left wanting to be her mate, to go on a night out and console her in equal measure.
Speaking of pals, it would be Phoebe’s friend and fellow singer-songwriter, Jessica Winter, who dared Phoebe to write the poppiest of pop songs. What we have as a result is ‘Crying In The Club’ – with its clever, swirling lyrical mantra “nothing changes if nothing changes if nothing changes” – and ‘Just A Game’, a shimmering track that describes the fear of developing feelings for someone when you just want a casual relationship.
These are quite some distance from the guitar-laden indie-rock those who’d been following Phoebe before were used to; especially those who heard her very first project, 02:00 AM, released when she was just doing her A-levels. (Phoebe has admitted that whilst very proud of her younger self’s work, that releases cringes her out to listen to now).
What Phoebe has therefore accomplished is a rather impressive artistic feat: to deconstruct what she once knew and recreate herself in a new light. Granted, she’s still young, her artistic inclinations still malleable – but to have taken such a turn with the level she’s achieved deserves recognition.
The album is a tight package, with different ebbs and flows complimenting each other. We begin with the elongated, almost forlorn ‘Break My Heart’, daring someone to hurt her romantically. ‘Make It Easy’ is a joyful, steady bop with something sinister and sexualised lurking beneath.
‘Clean’, true to its name, though, is a welcome washing-over of emotions with its twinkling synths and almost Sigur Rós-like coda. We’re lifted up once more, by the aforementioned pop of ‘Just A Game’ and the purring ‘One You Want’ (with probably my favourite of the record’s few racy lines: “You could stay at my place / My sister isn’t home if that makes a difference / If you don’t leave right after / I might let you do me in the kitchen”).
The element of existentialism inherent in ‘Diediedie’ and the thudding ‘Leach’ pulls this album away from being all about heartbreak, adding another level of depth and consequent admiration for the 24-year-old.
No doubt she’s still searching for herself, but that’s quite fine, as she takes us on that process with her, letting us into that world with all the ‘Sweat’, angst and ‘Crying In The Club’ that entails.
If I could give half stars, this would absolutely be a four-and-a-half. Given Phoebe has just taken a pivot to pop with this record, you expect there’s a lot more to give down the line, and a full marks album she’s able to deliver. For now, Lucky Me is a glorious interlude. Lucky us.