If you have yet to experience my intense Lauren Aquilina flailing, HERE IS YOUR CHANCE. Today I’m so thrilled to be reviewing (!!) her debut LP (!!) with An Overthinking Teenager (!!) @ Mixolydian Musings. We’ve both been massive fans of her for a while so obviously ALBUM NEWS was amazing to hear. It’s been a long wait for Isn’t It Strange? but I truly think it was worth it. 😀 We also reviewed some of her earlier music including the Ocean EP here, if you’re interested!
We’ll be going through the album track-by-track, but we’ll also discuss the album as a whole and general comments throughout.
I personally wasn’t that keen on this upon my first listen — I think I was feeling a bit nervous that Lauren had gone completely electronic? But now I adore this one, especially the chorus!
Me: And I also love the whole ‘midnight mouths thing and the entire aesthetic of the song haha.
AOT: I loveeee how the texture thickens just before the chorus, it makes it so powerful… and I personally quite like tropical house/dance music so I like old Aquilina but I was well on board with the new electronic era too.
(Again I’m slightly paraphrasing and editing for readability, by the way. Not completely direct quotes! Because those had a lot more terrible punctuation and capitals on my part.)
Wicked Game is definitely a favourite of mine on the album. I love the combination of darker lyrics with more electronic-y production, and the lyrics basically kill me every time. We also thought that the contrast of the lower verse with the higher chorus was super effective — the contrasts in this song do just work REALLY WELL.
AOT: And the lyrics kinda reflect a lot of life, like “nobody ever taught me to play this wicked game”…it kinda reminds me of how much of life you’re just expected to navigate alone.
Me: YES that is a good point! It’s kind of…both specific yet extremely relatable?
We discussed this one a bit in our previous review, but basically WE STILL LOVE IT. The production feels so seamless to me; the clapping and the little electronic-y riff going on are really cool. It was also fabulous to see a more positive song here! We also thought this (like many others on the album) felt more mature and experienced compared to the EPs.
AOT: AND ALSO KICKS = KICKING ME AROUND = PUNS/WORDPLAY = LOVE.
Me: IKR WHAT GREAT WORDPLAY HONESTLY.
(Okay, I lied about the capitals. WHAT CAN I SAY? Our flailing is too great to be constrained by proper grammar and capitalisation.)
how would you like it?
I loved this one from the first listen, although I think it’s only improved with time. We thought that the stripped production really let the emotion shine through — it’s just such a raw and powerful song. Although again it’s quite a specific situation, ‘how would you like it?’ feels like a really universal lyric too. HONESTLY, this just gives me the chills asdfjkl.
way too good
Me: I love the aesthetic of it like — I don’t know, it feels so classy to me.
AOT: Yesss I agree about the classiness thing, I think that’s because it’s more minimalist and, again, ‘grown up’.
I think I’ve said this way too
good many times, but this one is ALSO one of our favourites. I love the humming bit at the start, and generally the whole minimal but also slightly electronic production? The lyrics are honestly SO AWESOME — in particular I enjoy the ‘I am, I am’ bits and the whole vibe of appreciating the moment even though you know it won’t last.
hurt any less
This one is pretty different to the last one, but it has so many great contrasts — the fast verse and then slowing down at the chorus, the lyrics/melody… I adore the pre-chorus bit. ‘This was never love/it was chaos,’ is probably one of my favourite lines on the album!
AOT: Yep it’s amazing and also like that it feels happy even though it def isn’t.
Me: Ooh yes that’s interesting! Like, it does feel rather upbeat but listening to the lyrics you’re like…wait… It’s a bit bittersweet, I guess.
fools – live at RAK studios
So this one is a re-recording of Lauren’s first single, Fools, rather than a new song. She only wrote this age 16 (!?!?) but it’s still an incredibly moving song — like, seriously, where can I get these skills? It still fits well with the rest of the album, and it feels very fitting since it’s been such an important song in her career. We thought it was a little more reflective and subdued than the original. Lauren’s voice has also changed a lot, wow!
Me: Currently I’m just listening to the original of this to kinda compare haha.
AOT: I read somewhere that she rerecorded it because her voice has changed. And I agree with something else she said — about the way she sings it now is more serious and less naïve because she knows how the relationship ends
Me: oh that’s very interesting to hear! I’d definitely agree — I think it actually feels pretty similar to the rest of the album. Like, more grown up.
Suddenly Strangers has a lovely water-y vibe, especially at the beginning! The concept of how people can go from knowing each other so well to not talking at all is really interesting, and I think it works wonerfully here. This song has some great lines including the album title, ‘isn’t it strange?’ Once again it feels like a very universal theme.
I was pretty excited to hear this one because I’d seen a video of Lauren performing it live about a year ago and I was like OH I REMEMBER THIS LYRIC. (Actually, turns out the video is still up on YouTube!) We really liked that this is pretty pared down yet it’s still so powerful. The melody and lyrics speak so strongly on their own!
Me: Mm yes I don’t think it’s one of my absolute favourites overall but definitely another strong song. (And it reminds me a little more of like kinda Liars-y production? What with all those floaty piano things and stuff.)
AOT: Yes yes yes love it — I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite song overall but ‘all I’m thinking about’ etc is one of my fave lines on the album, I think.
We also reviewed this one previously, since it came out late last year, but IT’S STILL SO AWESOME. What a fabulous end to the album! To me it feels very cathartic, and it’s a lot more abstract than the others — like, it kind of applies to the whole album in a way.
an overall look
Me: *flails* tbh just…what great music…i think I have used too many ellipses here but yes I am vaguely speechless
AOT: Yess yess yess she’s done so freaking well it’s honestly amazing. 10/10 methinks.
In summary, we absolutely ADORED this. It was definitely worth waiting for, and I know that it’s one of my absolute favourite recent albums. We really liked that the songs sort of followed a linear narrative — going from the more electronic and dark opening tracks, they became a little more reflective as we went along. Something that I also noticed was that third person pronouns were used more; I think there were hardly any in the EPs! The lyrics in general just feel more experienced and direct, though they still retain a beautiful poetic quality. Like, there’s definitely less abstract imagery happening. AAH YAY IT’S JUST SO AMAZING and I can’t wait to hear more from Lauren Aquilina! Thanks so much to my wonderful reviewing partner An Overthinking Teenager, and I hope you guys enjoyed this flailing. 😀