Album Review: RALPH – A Good Girl

Monday, October 1, 2018

Over the course of the year, some have questioned pop's place in music — including the FADER, who in September claimed that pop was ‘dead’ in their review of Troye Sivan’s new album. If you ask us, any such claims are wildly distorted, and it can be argued that pop has undergone a much-needed revamp in 2018. Leading the charge is Toronto's Raffaela Weyman (aka RALPH), who has impressed with her singles ‘Weather’ and ‘Tables Have Turned’ — as well as her charming blend of pop infused with contemporary R&B with a dose of 80s synth-pop.

Her debut album, A Good Girl, is an exploration of the enigmatic nature of human romance and the many forms it takes — including self-love, summer flings, long-distance love, challenges and heartache. Though the album provides moments of breezy buoyant pop that makes you want to throw on your best dress and dance away the emotions, it also showcases the complexities of love and modern romance.

You’re mistaken if you thought A Good Girl was solely a jovial release about feeling loved up. The album’s opener, ‘For Yourself’, is an empowering ode to self-love. Accompanied by an R&B groove, she sings “Never be lonely if you got you/ Might seem scary, but you're so good / You don't need praise to lift you up higher / You know how to light your own fire”. In a body of work that’s centred around the theme of love, the inclusion of a song about the relationship you have with yourself — which is something that can often be neglected whilst in pursuit of love with another person — is powerful. ‘Dark Clouds’ is another moving track that presents love in a different context away from the more jubilant emotions associated with it in pop music. On the atmospheric and soaring track, she discusses helping someone she cares about and wanting to be their ‘antidote’. Though love can be enjoyable, the introspective words of ‘Dark Clouds’ present the realities of a situation when you’re trying your best to be supportive. The closer, ‘Cereal’, which features Milk & Bone, is a poignant song about heartbreak. Montreal duo Milk & Bone, who are prominent for their dreamy vocal harmonies and heavenly brand of synth-pop, are the perfect collaborators on ‘Dark Clouds’.

Though the album reflects on the more emotionally stirring aspects of love, A Good Girl also features moments of elating reprieve — particularly the exhilaration of infatuation and passion . ‘Weather’ revives the 80s in the best possible way. The previously released single sees Weyman explore summer flings, especially when feelings start to become involved. The infectious track radiates the joy associated with summer days (and nights) and the thrill the warmer months bring. Listening to ‘Weather’ is sure to bring out your best moves. ‘Bedroom Eyes’ is a lusty and lively tune that explores the physical nature of attraction — “Love the way your body feels / Your shape's a sweet reveal / We're staying up tonight”. ‘Long Distance Lover’, which as you can probably guess, is about a romance that is developing from afar. The breezy track showcases her splendid marriage of pop and contemporary R&B.

An intriguing inclusion on the album is ‘Gimme’, which reflects on material desires in a relationship. The subject of the song craves the finer things in life, like shoes, jewellery and fine red wine. ‘Gimme’ is fun and will make you want to strut around like you’re walking around Hôtel Ritz in Paris. Though the track doesn't directly evoke feelings of love and romance, just like the LP’s opener, it’s an empowering number. Out of all the songs on A Good Girl, ‘Gimme’ is the one that features more R&B elements.

RALPH's A Good Girl is a sublime and immerseive debut album that entices listeners with its honest lyricism, catchy hooks, splendid vocals and charming blend of synth-pop and R&B — and if you have any doubts on whether pop is thriving in 2018, just listen to this LP over-and-over again.

Written by Amy Smolcic (@amysmolcic)