Album review by Noelle Simeon
Main photo by Simple G.
The adventure Alison Wonderland guides us through is very personal, reaching within as she processes doubts, anxiety, and depression and comes out the other side, finding hope and strength. Explaining to New Zealand DJ Zane Lowe in an interview for Apple Music, Alison spoke about how she’s evolved. Telling Lowe the reason for calling the record Loner was “to empower that word again…I listened to my other projects, and I thought, ‘OK, I’m always the victim in these other albums, and I refuse to do that again”. It certainly has worked as new and old fans connect with her personal journey.
Loner opens with “Forever,” “Safe Life,” and “Fuck U Love U,” a voyage within themselves as Alison recognizes the dangerous world around her. “Forever” is melancholic, opening with the lyric “All alone, where to start?”; observing when you’re in a lousy situation can feel never-ending. “Safe Life” has this chaotic, almost unpredictable rhythm that matches Alison’s lyrics of the insecure life around her. “Fuck U Love U” is intoxicating with the multi-layered sections, almost as if each represents the enchantments of the chorus.
With “New Day,” we see the album’s mood shift and hope breaks. Complete with guitar twangs and background trumpets, Space Cowgirl Alison can take life into her own hands.
The interlude, “I’m Doing Great Now Thanks,” is almost ethereal with a laid-back bass on top. Towards the end, we hear Alison speak backward. Lucky for us, the internet exists (thanks, Reddit), and I found the lyrics:
“I refuse to let sadness overcome me. Everything comes in waves, up and down, and back again. All the disorder is what keeps me going. It will all make sense in the end. I only accept love.” Following her declaration, we have “Something Real,” the album’s love song. She grabs onto the positive, tangible love before her, not wanting her doubts to overcome what is real.
“Eyes Closed,” “Bad Things,” and “Fear of Dying” seem to revolve around anxieties, but instead of falling back into their spirals, she can recognize and step away. A growth journey can only go so far on positivity, and “Eyes Closed” is trance-like, musically racing as one’s mind spirals out. “Bad Things” is almost a warning to herself, singing, “Don’t fall in love with the bad things. Remind me why I’m still alive”. “Fear of Dying” expresses the fear of losing everything good in her life.
Calling out haters, copycats, and toxic downers are encompassed in tracks “Thirst” and “Cocaine.” Cut those weeds out, Alison; you only got time for flowers.
Closing out this fantastic album is “Loner,” with Alison exclaiming, “I’m a loner, I’m alone now, and it’s OK to cry.”
Recording the 12-song album, Loner shows her growth through self-acceptance and vulnerability and is the cathartic gift she could give to herself and us.