“I am 20 and probably upset right now” are the first words you hear on Maisie Peters’ debut album You Signed Up For This. Just one line sets the tone for the whole album, unwaveringly honest, vulnerable and unashamed of who she is, much like the other gen-z female artists that Maisie follows in the footsteps of, Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo. This line however is perhaps one of the most restrained on an album that thrives on emotional extremes.
Peters, the Sussex born singer-songwriter has already released a string of recognisable tracks and amassed a fanbase that has only grown since her 2018 EP release “Dressed Too Nice For A Jacket”, and this is a fanbase, that given the success of the 5 pre-release singles from this album, will only continue to grow.
“You Signed Up For This” the first album for both Maisie and Ed Sheeran’s label Gingerbread Man Records may have had something to prove but if Maisie felt that pressure in any way, shape or form it’s not felt once throughout this record.
When Maisie released the first single from this album “John Hughes Movie” you could sense the beginning of the end for Maisie and indie-folk music. However, you didn’t expect for “You Signed Up For This” to be a complete departure from the music Maise has released in the years prior to this record.
Gone is the indie-folk music of old Maisie Peters and replacing it is an album that’s pure pop. “You Signed Up For This” celebrates all the good that pop has to offer, with the inclusion of synth-filled melodies and upbeat beats throughout, the record is an homage to the music that Maisie grew up listening to. And yet given this change in genre, you get the sense that this is the most comfortable, most assured in her sound Maisie has ever been.
Songs like “Love Him I Don’t” and “Boy” beg for the listener to be up on their feet dancing in their bedroom with no cares in the world. And then we have songs like “Psycho” and “I’m Trying (Not Friends) that need to be seen performed live for the listener to get the full effect. It’s a debut record that has somehow mastered the balance.
The record is hopeful, energetic and not afraid of vulnerability. Songs like the made to be sung live, festival-ready “Psycho” see Peters getting over a cheating ex-boyfriend, whilst “Tough Act” is a soft yet positive pop song about moving on from a relationship that whilst not perfect still brought joy.
Throughout the record Maisie is in control, she holds the narrative and decides how you should feel. That is until the song “Hollow”, the most haunting song about heartbreak on the record opens with the lines “I wasn’t broken ‘till you tried to fix me”.
The fanciful “Volcano” starts with Maisie unsure about sending a Happy Birthday text then moving into a song of anger after being left on read, “I wished you happy birthday, and you still said nothing, I’ll throw you in a volcano, I hope death is sudden.” It’s seething with anger and bitterness, proving once again that Maisie is not afraid of a challenge, not afraid to go against the expectations placed on a young woman in the music industry.
Maisie continues to be a talented storyteller, entwining narratives in much the same way as her teen obsession Taylor Swift. Her strength lies in her ability to tell stories about love given, love received and love broken into millions of pieces. The fourth track on the record “Outdoor Pool” shows the storytelling ability brilliantly, starting with “Bleached tips and a rugby sweatshirt / Two apart in Chemistry” before diving into a story about a young girl crushing on a boy in her class who’s only stringing the girl along.
Witty one-liners, another strong point of Maisie’s, say hello throughout this 14 track record. They offer up a bit of fun in the more emotional, more vulnerable songs in a way that other artists of Maisie’s age can’t compete with.
Again taking cues from Taylor Swift, who has said that Maisie’s voice is “heavenly”, Maisie is adept at creating a chorus that will embed itself in the listener’s head, a necessity in a world where new music is released every day.
“You Signed Up For This” is an insight into the relationships of the young and Maisie Peter’s own coming of age, the songs feel as if they’ve come out of if not Maisie’s own diary, then the diary of another young girl from anywhere in the world.
You Signed Up For This is available now via Gingerbread Man Records.
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