If you’re talking ‘sad girl pop’, Sasha Alex Sloan is the moment. The American singer/songwriter first hit global radars with the release of her debut album, ‘Only Child’ during October of 2020. Since then, she has consistently delivered hit after melancholic hit, entering 2022 with a gleaming 11-track album titled ‘I Blame The World’. Safe to say, we’re obsessed.
Sasha Alex Sloan first came to us during 2018, in the form of a scathing track titled ‘Older’. It caught us off-guard, and really tore the wallpaper off the rising popstar and revealed messy, intricate storytelling and pained themes, all packaged within superior vocal delivery and production to match. Unlike other tracks that are quick to become club bangers before the message behind the song comes creeping in (we’re looking at you, ‘Pumped Up Kicks’, and you ‘I Took A Pill In Ibiza’), ‘Older’ immediately painted an reflective picture of the story it was telling and the message it held. And it stayed with us, becoming a playlist staple that we still plug and play today, when we’re really in the mood to hurt.
If this track were a feeling, it’s definitely lump-in-your-throat, please-nobody-ask-if-we’re-okay.
Now, Sloan has been around since 2017, delivering two singles during that year that could easily be part of her 2022 album today. It’s common to see an artist grow and improve as the years go by, figuring out where their strengths and sounds lie. But with Sloan, it’s admittedly the opposite, and we mean this in the highest of praises. Each track has its own sense of what makes it a hit, whether we’re looking at the melodies, themes or even recall value.
Pop music follows some general rules-hooks, melodies, repetition and relatability. Pop is essentially popular music, so understandably, pop music needs to fill the relatability quota more than the others. And when we say Sloan’s music feels like its been ripped straight out of a diary that holds very intimate entries? We’re not kidding.
‘I Blame The World’ is the songwriter’s latest entry to her body of work, an album that very visually takes us through a 20-something’s day-to-day in a way we needed but didn’t know yet. The album dropped during May this year, and is accompanied by a world tour that is set to kick off from 20 July. The tour will see attendees across the USA, UK and and Europe, delivering its last entry on October 13 in London.
With the ‘I Blame The World’ tour no more than a few weeks away, we’re taking a track-by-track look at the album, in no particular order.
I H8 Myself (For The Overthinkers)
Officially track 9 on the 11-track album, ‘I H8 Myself’ comes in casually, with Sloan addressing her complexion on the beach, against a mellowed guitar lead and some atmospheric synths in the background. You’re hooked at “[But] it’s kind of a blessing being insecure, Not a thing you can think I haven’t thought before” and by your third replay, you’ve sunk. If you’re looking for an easy beach-listen with a side of idgaf-but-you-can-try, ‘I H8 Myself’ might be your next anthem.
Thank You (For Appreciating Your #1)
It takes a special kind of vulnerability to deal with the subject matter Sloan prizes, and she manages to do this every time with an added layer of grace. ‘Thank You’ is track 5 on the album and features seemingly easy-going instrumentation in the first verse, only to go bring in the early-2000s reminiscent chorus that breaks out the electronic guitars and tight drum-work. Layered with Sloan’s husk-laden vocals, the track delivers the prettiest thank you, with the kind of honesty better said in song.
New Normal (For The One That Got Away)
‘New Normal’ paints the kind of picture you wish weren’t so. Sloan takes us through a break-up with this track, 7th on the album, giving us details that leave us feeling bittersweet. You’ve moved on, but you haven’t. ‘New Normal’ also clues you in with the title, a term that has recently become more common than before. And this isn’t the only title that is a play on words in the ‘I Blame The World’ album. But it sure is the one to leave you feeling a little more heartbroken than the others.
One Trick Pony (For The One That Wasn’t)
This is an easier listen than the rest of the album, and that really is saying something. ‘One Trick Pony’ sees Sloan call out a one-sided relationship, the “one trick pony” being the s/o that Sloan addresses. While the subject matter is still pretty direct, calling to scenarios that we’d have to admit are more universal than not, the delivery makes it so that you could easily bop your head on a drive to this playing on the stereo, and it won’t immediately have your emotions bubbling up.
Global Warming (For The Sunshine To Your Grumpy)
That one elephant of that one room that we never truly address? Yeah, Sloan addresses it. And then flips it around in a way that has your shoulders feeling just a bit lighter. Don’t be fooled, you still get “We’re burning up like a cigarette, Everyone we love’s gonna end up dead” but then you get that one person that makes it all irrelevant. In a true If-The-World-Was-Ending style telling, Sloan, like so many others, addresses the sunshine character that comes in to cancel her doomsday thoughts. Inevitable, but quickly sidelined because honestly, love could make you forget about the planet burning up. And Sloan admits it too.
Hardest Thing (For The Regret)
“No one ever taught me how to hurt someone, Breaking your heart’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done”. ‘Hardest Thing’ is a hot knife and we’re butter. It is fire and we’re a mere flake of snow. In under 4 minutes, Sloan takes us on a journey that is sweetened by guitar strums as much as it is soured by the regret it manifests. Another track for a moderately-long cruise, but one that will most likely end in sad faces and the need to do it all over again, ‘Hardest Thing’ is the very last track on Sloan’s ‘I Blame The World’ album, and it leaves you feeling exactly what it wants you to. If there was ever a break-the-third-wall moment, it is here, where we have Sloan regret the heartbreak she’s caused, and that she’d never learned how to hurt someone. Words we refuse to accept from someone that manages to consistently wound us track by track, lyric by carefully strung melody. You know what? Good choice for the last track of the album because we’re about to do it all over again.
Intro (The Perfect Introduction To What You’re About To Get Yourself Into)
We’re of firm belief that if you replace whoever Sloan addresses in her tracks with yourself, it hurts less. So you do that, or don’t, depending on how you’re feeling today. ‘Intro’ is the very first track on the album and is only 45 seconds long, delivered in an almost lullaby-like fashion. It’s short and sweet and leaves you wanting more. Which is good, because there’s 10 more tracks waiting to be devoured right after.
WTF (For The Shared Experience of Life in 2022)
Accurate? Accurate. It’s 2022, and we’ve just gotten out of a global pandemic to enter multiple wars and hostile takeovers, a planet that is slowly dying, human rights violations of growing proportions and then we have this beautiful piece of art. ‘WTF’ is easily amongst the stand-out tracks on the album, if we were forced to pick favorites. It’s an easy enough listen, so you’ll be humming “wtf am I doing here” before you realize, “No, but really”. It’s a story that is happening in real time, “Same shit, different year, Till I disappear”. Remember when we said Sad-Girl Sloan is the moment? Mhm. And then some.
Live Laugh Love (For The Cynic In You)
This is that track that’ll have you not feeling so lonely when you’re alone. But that is perhaps easily said about all of Sloan’s music. ‘Live Laugh Love’ flips the script to the famous saying, with Sloan’s vocals delivered in a melancholy that is somehow hopeful. The track comes in with a steady 4/4 rhythm, making it easy to hum along to from the get-go. As the chorus comes in, we’re given lyrics that won’t soon leave us. “Don’t wanna live my best life, Just wanna lay here all night”. It’s Sloan’s ability to pair harsh truths with catchy melodies that has us singing along to this as if it isn’t an admission of guilt. “Boxers are my lingerie, Dinners in the microwave”. It isn’t glittering, larger-than-life or magical in anyway, yet it is. Listening to real-life play out in song couldn’t sound better.
Adult (For The 20-Somethings Everywhere)
‘Adult’ is another one of Sloan’s shared experience tracks, accurately encapsulating adulthood in all its flaws and trials. Habits, happenings and the internal workings of your body all change with the onslaught of said adulthood. And Sloan puts it into catchy lyrics that’ll leave you feeling understood. An experience we could compile a short list for the songs that deliver. “Used to get drunk and wake up feeling refreshed, But now I have a drink and can’t get out of bed, ‘Cause it finally hurts being hungover”. But the Sloan doubles down with the classic, “But it’s still not worse than being sober”. The guts. The accuracy. The journey of growing up, but relatable? We agree, being an adult is f*cking hard, Sloan. But it helps to have a song that says exactly that. For when we’re tired of saying it.
I Blame The World (For The Ultimate Cynic In You)
It seemed fitting to have the title track close off this review. ‘I Blame The World’ is a winner, we see why it took up the spot for the name of Sloan’s album. The track sees Sloan lay question upon question, each making you go, “When you put it like that…” or “Right?!” depending on where you find yourself emotionally. All of this layered against a steady pulsing synth, pushing Sloan’s vocals front and center and ready to cause some emotional disruption, and we’re here for it! ‘I Blame The World’ comes up right after Track 1 (Intro) and lays down the foundation for the 11-track beauty that is Sloan’s second studio album. We’re trying to find the best lyrics to quote but it truly is difficult to pick one set. Maybe, “I blame the world, I’m a glass half empty kinda girl”. That sums it up. For the cynic we’re all trying so hard not to be these days.
And that wraps up the ‘I Blame The World’ album review. We’ll admit we’d initially thought to include 6 tracks in this list, but we wound up putting together a complete summary of the entire album, to double down on how brilliant each track is. It is rare to have an album with every song at an equal level of mastery, but ‘I Blame The World’ does this with a finesse we can’t wait to see transformed into a live performance. Sasha Alex Sloan is the kind of artist that doesn’t shy away from the authenticity of life and all its intricacies. She manages to draw from them, giving listeners an in-depth look at her own psyche. And in many ways, having them come to terms with their own.
‘I Blame The World’ is a polaroid shot of the world we live in today, through the eyes of a 27-year-old. One that will stay with us for a long time as a stand-out set of releases this year.