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Although I am now well-listened in Julia Michael’s musical history, before this she was a relative unknown until her joint single with fellow artist, JP Saxe, ‘If The World Was Ending’, permeated every media platform in July last year – and then I was hooked. Since then I have somewhat binged Michael’s discography. I was amidst the honeymoon phase of listening to one of her most recent single, ‘All Your Exes’, when I opened Spotify to find a whole new album. So, the past few days have been spent listening to ‘Not In Chronological Order’ on repeat.
This is Michael’s first studio album, following EPs, ‘Nervous System’ and ‘Inner Monologue’ parts one and two. This new music seems the result of the last few years of crafting her musical identity as a truly talented pop singer, but her music is so much more than that. Whilst ‘Not In Chronological Order’ has the staple sounds of a hit pop album, the lyrics are so full of feeling and deeply personal.
The album opens with the first single, ‘All Your Exes’, a song about being so in love with someone you wish you were the only one they’d ever known or been with. The music video takes the message of the song one step further where Michaels re-creates a psychological thriller within a 3 ½ minute segment, taking inspiration from thrillers like American Psycho and Serial Mum. The song is an exaggerated, somewhat comedic take on the jealousy that exists in relationships. The song opens with slow, melodic tones accompanied by acoustic guitar, ultimately luring you into what you expect to be such a love ballad, only for a quick switch, now with an electric guitar accompaniment, into a sinister portrayal of love.
The rest of the album ping-pongs between sentimental songs like ‘Love Is Weird’ and ‘Little Did I Know’ to dance hits like ‘Lie Like This’ and ‘Undertone.’ The album is ultimately inspired by Michael’s relationship with fellow artist, JP Saxe, who also co-wrote several of the songs on her new album, including ‘All Your Exes’. In an interview with udiscovermusic, Michael’s described her album as “another side of me, because for the first time I’ve experienced a new kind of love, one that has been happy and healthy, and the songs reflect that.”
Despite all my raving for ‘All Your Exes’ (amazing as it is) my favourite song on the album is actually the last one, ‘That’s The Kind Of Woman’, which tells the story of a maturing Michaels and dealing with the insecurities. “Jealous but the right amount/ Isn’t scared of missing out, missing outs scared of missing her, yeah/Doesn’t buy things to fill voids/Doesn’t hate the sound of her own voice.”
Whilst I’m clearly a huge fan of Julia Michaels, I think this album is the natural progression to her musical work over the last decade and reflects not only her true talent but a true version of herself.