Cry Baby album sends a shiver down spine

Sophia Ho

Cry Baby, breakout artist Melanie Martinez’s debut album, is a collection of artistic pop songs, filled with strong stylistic choices. After placing fifth on The Voice in 2012, this album serves as Martinez’s first original release as an artist, not just a singer.

With a childlike sound and honey-coated vocals, the album’s specialty, as Cry Baby makes clear, is syrupy sweet tracks with rotten undertones and hidden meanings (broken families, depression, and sexual assault, to name a few). The end result is a theme album (a type of album where every song contributes to a unified story or idea), following the life and times of Martinez’s alter-ego, Cry Baby, for whom the album is named.

The character Cry Baby is a childish and emotional girl, to whom quite a few bad things have happened. With songs that have red herring names like “Sippy Cup”, and “Milk and Cookies”, but are actually about a cheating father and murdering her molester, this should come as no surprise. The album is nostalgic for childhood, but is flooded with the dark side of growing up. The end result creates music suitable for things that were shiny when we were in grade school, but send a shiver down our spines now, like an out of order merry-go-round or an abandoned amusement park. Martinez’s music tells us the truth: as much we may wish to be kids again, we’re not the same children to whom the word failure meant nothing, who played in the backyard without fear of ridicule, who thought that we could grow up to be superheroes and princesses. That’s the past— growing up leaves scars.

Although the album includes several stand out tracks (such as “Dollhouse”, “Soap”, and “Pity Party”), both the writing style and Martinez’s lullaby-like voice start to feel repetitive by the end. If Martinez wants to stay relevant in pop culture, she needs to try and give different songs different sounds.

Perfect for fans of aesthetic pop artists like Lorde or Marina and the Diamonds, Martinez’s melodic sound turns Cry Baby into a must-listen album with a strong backbone and powerful lyrics, if a bit monotonous after awhile.