Gracie Abrams released her debut album “Good Riddance” on Feb. 24. The pop album, while more sonically explorative than Abrams’ previous projects “Minor” and “This Is What It Feels Like,” still maintains the signature Abrams sound of soft and airy vocals. It consists of 12 tracks and is under 53 minutes long.
The album starts off with “Best,” a track about acknowledging that you treated someone terribly, even though they did nothing but love you. Abrams references the album’s title in this song with the lyrics “You were the worst of my crimes/ You fell hard, I thought ‘Good Riddance.’”
While I do not condone knowingly treating someone badly, I admire that Abrams sings from the opposite perspective (the person at fault) on this commonly written about phenomenon. However, the bridge of this track is the real standout. Abrams recounts every negative thing she has done to this person. The lyrics “And I destroyed every/ silver lining you had/ In your head, all of your/ feelings I played with them” are particularly notable.
Track two, “I know it won’t work,” seems to be a continuation of the storyline in “Best,” at least from my perspective. This song, while gentler than the last, has a slow but catchy beat. Abrams conveys how she knows that the relationship with the person she hurt will not end up working out no matter what she does, but sometimes she wants them back. Picking up at the chorus, the lyrics “Why won’t you try moving on for once? That might make it easy/ I know we cut all the ties, but you’re never really leavin’/ And part of me wants you back but/ I know it won’t work like that, huh?” are speculative in nature and place blame on the victim of the situation, before Abrams continues the song and takes accountability for her actions.
Track four, “Where do we go now?” was released as a single prior to the album on Jan. 13, and has made its way into my regular rotation. It is sonically pleasing, as listening to it almost feels as if you are in an empty room, surrounded by Abrams’ vocals. I do wonder if this track also contributes to the storyline of the opening tracks, or if Abrams is singing of a different failed romantic relationship. The title of the song “Where do we go now?” speaks to its concept. Abrams is questioning where her relationship is headed since, “there’s nothing left” between the two of them, and their “best years are behind.” Personally, it has helped me cope with the loss of a one-sided friendship in my life, therefore I think the lyrics are open for interpretation.
Track five, “I should hate you,” pulls you in with light guitar strums that set a melancholy tone. Abrams’ mellow vocals carry us through her internal battle of realizing she should hate the person she’s singing about, as she cared way more about them than they did her. Still, it is clear she does not hate this person, as she admits she would go back to them if they asked. Lyrically, this is one of the strongest tracks on the album. The imagery in lines “Pulled the knife out my back/ it was right where you left it/ but your aim’s kinda perfect/ I’ll give you the credit” is insanely powerful. Ironically, Abrams is the person suffering for loving someone more than they loved her in this situation, which means she has come full circle from “Best.”
Released as a single on Feb. 10, I interpreted track seven, “Amelie,” as a love story describing sapphic yearning, although many people consider the lyrics to be Abrams talking to her younger self. Whichever way you choose to interpret it, this song will rip you apart. The strumming pattern used on the guitar in this track is stunning, and feels warm, which accompanies the heartbreaking lyrics well. When Abrams sings “‘Cause she had her hair up/ She cried about her obsessions/ But she doesn’t know I’d let her/ Ruin all my days” I picture Amelie, crying, being consoled by another girl who she does not realize is in love with her. However, when Abrams repeats chorus lyrics “So where did you go, Amelie?/ Amelie, Amelie, where’d you go?” I also see the “younger self” interpretation of this song. These lyrics make me think that Abrams is questioning where a younger version of herself has gone and what she has turned into.
Track 11, “The blue,” is a switch up from the previous songs on the album as the lyrics are about a healing relationship that Abrams is in. She has finally found the person that makes everything a little “less terrible.” Abrams tells of the various deep topics she has discussed with this person, creating an intimate connection with them. The chorus of the song, “You came out of the blue like that/ I never could’ve seen you coming/ I think you’re everythin’ I’ve wanted” explains that Abrams was not expecting this person to come into her life, but she is shocked by how good they have been for her. It is a refreshing track that complements the journey we see Abrams go through in this album.
The last track, “Right now,” is my favorite on the album. The tender taps of piano keys that are akin to raindrops echo in my mind even when I am not listening to it. It is about moving out of your childhood home and grappling with the fact that while that decision was better for your growth, you still find yourself homesick. While I stayed in Philadelphia for college, I live on campus and find this song extremely relatable. Abrams’ mentions of specific scenes are what truly make an impact. The opening lyrics “Look at me, I feel homesick/ Want my dog in the door/ And the light in the kitchen/ From the fridge on the floor” ground you in the picture she is painting.
The chorus lyrics, “Oh, I’m so high, but can’t look down/ Left my past life on the ground/ Think I’m more alive somehow/ I feel like myself right now” are what growing up feels like. While my experience living at college has not always been the best, this song serves as a reminder of all the ways I have positively changed as a person since high school. It has quickly gained a special place in my heart, on my “existence & musings” playlist and gotten me through many a bad day.
“Good Riddance” is absolutely worth the listen. It is perfect for when you need a good cry, when you need to contemplate life or both. Abrams’ career is definitely on the rise and it is clear why, as her talent speaks for itself. While I cannot guarantee that everyone will like this album, I can safely say that Abrams has gained at least one fan from its release.