By Derek Baker, June 15, 2017 —
After a string of EPs and singles, Toronto synth-pop artist Alexandra Hughes — better known under the stage name Allie X — released her first full-length album, CollXtion II. In an electro-pop scene currently plagued with unsubstantial songs, the carefully crafted album is a refreshing addition to the genre.
Hughes has said each song is a piece of herself — “whether it be a memory, experience, projected fantasy or my perception of current reality.” This vulnerability creates a fantastic album that’s reminiscent of her CollXtion I EP, but with a deeper, more fleshed-out sound.
The album opens with the previously released single “Paper Love,” which boasts a strong bass line and a catchy whistling hook. Hughes sings, “Oh, I cry until I just dissolve, come on watch my heart turn to pulp like paper love,” lyrics that are a poignant statement about the fragility of romance.
“Vintage” follows as a descriptor of a timeless and nostalgic relationship. The drum machines and synths are fun and sexy. The feeling the song evokes is later recalled in “Lifted” — my personal favourite track on the album, with a syncopated reggae-esque beat that is almost impossible not to bop along to.
“Casanova,” which was first released as a stripped-down ballad featuring only Hughes’s powerful voice accompanied by a piano, has been reworked into an absolute banger.
Each song on the album is distinct. Other notable standouts include “That’s So Us” and “Downtown,” both of which have an infectious chorus that will certainly get stuck in your head.
CollXtion II concludes with “True Love is Violent.” Though simple in its construction, it ends the album on an appropriate down-tempo note. The track proves that sometimes all you need is a comfortable and recognizable four-chord progression.
Allie X has already carved out an intense, loyal fan base that will not be disappointed by the record. And hopefully, it will garner a more widespread appreciation for her poppy prowess.