Can it be nearly two years since we first heard “Impossible Stuff”, Carla’s last full-length release. That was a real statement of self from the Glasgow pop artist extraordinaire. I’m now sitting here with her brand-new release,” Weirdo”, just soaking up the lush soundscapes. Carla has a sound all of her own and on this release, she has really amplified every aspect of her musical personality to eleven.
Of the album title Carla says “I’ve often been told I am weird – like that’s a derogatory word, let’s be clear – normal doesn’t exist. The things that make me weird are the things that make me, me.” I think we can all get on board with that.
Album opener “Get Lost” is pounding dancefloor filler. With a nice call back to the opener from her last album “we’re still dreamin’ on the run”. There’s an undercurrent of 80’s style production running throughout this album that is particularly prominent in this track. I suspect that was deliberate. A statement of intent if you will.
“Heart So Hard” maintains that synth heavy groove from the opener splashed with hooks galore. With a chorus that is left spinning around in your head after the first listen, this is Carla pulling out all the stops.
Some really cool swirling and panning on the intro to “Spun Out” sets the mood for the song. This is classic Carla. Defiant lyrics, that warm yet epic synth sound that has followed her from Teen Canteen into her own solo work and really thoughtful arrangements. I have developed a bit of a soft spot for this song.
When I heard that Glasgow rapper Solar Eye was appearing on the album, I was scratching my head. How was this going to work? I needn’t have worried. Dave Hooks’ lyrics work so well against the backdrop of a pop banger. This track really cements Carla’s reputation a collaborator supreme. This is a theme that continues into the album.
Honest and from the heart lyrics are something Carla has form for but “Never Knew You” really is the most open and emotionally generous I have ever heard her. “’Never Knew You’ acknowledges the pedestal you can place someone on – what you hope they will be – and what happens when they crash down from that height.” As always, she has cleverly couched this song in a stunning pop anthem but it’s the lyrical content that has cemented it as my album highlight.
We take it down the gears a bit for ‘Signing it in Blood’. The best way I can describe this song is, imagine the song at the end of your favourite eighties coming of age movie. You know, the one where our leading lady gets her dance at the prom. This track wouldn’t sound out of place on the Stranger Things soundtrack. Yeah, that good.
“Beautiful Boy” bounces out the gate with a skipping off kilter rhythm. Retro synths build in to form a luscious, pristine backing. Oh, and that chorus. Simplicity itself executed to perfection. I once said that Bis had “more hooks than a fisherman’s dingy”, this applies to Carla too. And how.
And just to cement that opinion “Over You” Has that big eighties production vibe but taken to the next level. This deserves to be played at high volume in a club.
The title track features a team up with Glasgow rockers Honeyblood. Fuzzed out and delirious its an absolute stormer. Check it out for yourself here.
“Catch Me If I Fall” really caught me unawares. It opens really sparsely and has a similar vibe to her previous work. Then out of nowhere the track opens up into this widescreen pop opus. This is where great song writing and production magic come together to create something magical.
The album closes with “Coming Up Daisies”. There’s something about this song that has that cinematic soundtrack feel. The cascading synths, the unusual chord change in the verses keep you paying attention. The reverb-soaked chorus is the very definition of lush pop. What a way to close an album.
I really love it when artists evolve their sound without losing the core of what makes them unique. With “Weirdo” Carla has undoubtedly brought her A game, building on her previous successes. Moving forward is the name of the game here. No time to dwell on yesterday. This is going to feature in a lot of end of year polls, mine especially.
“Weirdo” is available now from Carla’s Bandcamp page via Olive Grove Records.