hello folks! this week for the weekly review, i’m listening to Chappell Roan’s The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess. this is Chappell Roan’s debut record, and i will say right up front that i’m not a stranger to many of the songs on this record. i listened to many of the singles that led up to this release, notably Femininomenon and Pink Pony Club, which were frequent plays in my household. that being said, it makes me very excited to see what else is on here!

the record opens with one of the most bombastic tracks, Femininomenon. there’s a running theme on this record of being disappointed with relationships with male partners and diving into female relationships, so this is an extremely fitting and pumped up way to introduce us to that theme and the record. good track. Red Wine Supernova was one of the (many) singles leading up to the record, and like Pink Pony Club this one shows some somewhat subtle country influences (mostly in the intro, but it’s present elsewhere too). this song is one of my faves on the record for sure – the soar the chorus accomplishes is just great. After Midnight was the sleeper hit of the record for me – it wasn’t one of the singles and it isn’t one of the highly played songs on the record, but its one of the only songs ive heard in the last few years that’s able to hit the same vibes as Doja Cat’s Say So, which was i kept on repeat for like a month after discovering it, so im excited to keep this song in rotation. the fucking bass! the sultry vocal delivery! the danceable beat! THE FUCKING BASS!!! i think Coffee is a fine track about toxic dependency, but i reaaallly think it hurts being here in the track listing. tonally it’s so so so different from the last three songs, both musically and lyrically. it just kinda kills the momentum in its tracks. Casual is an incredibly good song, and serves as an interesting contrast to Coffee for me. this song also represents a significant slowdown and a bit of a shift in tone, but it feels much more in line with the songs surrounding it. i also gotta say – this is another strong with country vibes, and man it’s a sound Roan wears well. Super Graphic Ultra Modern Girl is very well positioned – the intro successfully builds back up to that bombastic party vibe. this is a Lady Gaga song, and i mean in the most positive, complementary terms i can. this kicks ass. HOT TO GO! is a fun track. i think this one’s got space to grow on me, but its not one of my faves. My Kink Is Karma just doesn’t quite landing the way i think it’s intended to for me. Picture You’s fine but it kinda falls in the same category as Coffee to me. Kaleidoscope is a very tender piano ballad, and a quite farewell. i enjoy it but i feel like the run of tracks leading up to it doesn’t quite prep me for it, haha. Pink Pony Club is the first song i heard from Chappell Roan, and this absolutely deserves the attention it’s gotten, imo. lyrically this song is excellent, exalting a life decried by your upbringing, and Roan’s vocal delivery absolutely sells it. this song’s very very very good. Naked In Manhatten dives back into the space explored early in the record – this song is extremely fun. “could go to hell but we’ll probly be fine” is such a killer line. i also gotta say, i like it paired with Pink Pony Club as both tracks are about breaking out of your boundaries when you travel somewhere far away, that felt exotic before. it’s also fitting to explore those vibes in the tracks before California, a song about returning after those expeditions don’t work the way you expect them to. the verses are kinda week on this song, but the choruses absolutely make up for them. Guilty Pleasure is a surprise bop right at the end of the album – i love the way the chorus breaks in “i want this like a cigarette / can we drag it out”. absolutely killer track.

faves – Femininomenon, Red Wine Supernova, After Midnight, Casual, Super Graphic Ultra Modern Girl, Pink Pony Club, Naked In Manhatten, Guilty Pleasure
dislikes –

this is definitely a record that wears its influences on its sleeves, and i actually really enjoy that. i kinda lost it the first time i listened to super Graphic Ultra Modern Girl, and finding After Midnight was an absolute delight. there are absolutely some of the parts of this record that feel like under different executions would feel crass (like “i want you to fuck me” in Red Wine Supernova or “knee deep in the passenger seat while you’re eating me out” from Casual”), but i dunno. i feel like Roan’s able to make it work on those songs. partially because she’s giving some incredible vocal performances, but i also feel like the writings specific enough on the more personal tracks that it feels more intimate and genuine than like it’s being played for shock. plus the vocal performances feel strongest when Roan engages in that kind of longing – the performances on tracks like Coffee and Picture Me are solid but even a track like Kaleidoscope feels stronger to me. and that longing, that desire to break out of a repressive norm and explore identity and love unconstrained is very very core to the thematic structure of the record! that being said, i feel like as a full package this feels just a tad overstuffed, and there’s a few points where i feel like things don’t mesh well with the tracks around them. early listens gave a kind of “pop album” vibe, where it’s based on a few big single hits that can be excised cleanly from the tracklist, but honestly that’s not a fair assessment and i think the places where i picked up on that vibe are the slightly weaker points in the transitions or places where songs don’t quite line up. give this one a shot for sure.

The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess – 9/10

for the next Weekly Album Review, i’ll be returning to Shpongle for their 2009 record The Ineffable Mysteries of Shpongleland. i’ll be back next Friday, October 20th with that review and to pick another weekly record, and in the meantime, let me know what album you’d like me to review! (i pool all suggestions in one place, and draw a person, then one pick from that person, so feel free to drop as many as you’d like! if you leave an email or username i’ll contact you when i’ve gotten through all your suggestions.)