The RX is Uproxx Music’s stamp of approval for the best albums, songs, and music stories throughout the year. Inclusion in this category is the highest distinction we can bestow, and signals the most important music being released throughout the year. The RX is the music you need, right now.
Alycia Bella’s music was meant to float peacefully in the summer sun. Its delicate texture makes for a sound that eases the body’s muscles and relieves the many headaches of the world. It has the potential to be a remedy for this tension-filled, nerve-racking society we currently inhabit. For someone who’s spent much of the last decade in close proximity to the music world, Alycia took her time creating this easily perishable world she resides in, one she presents on her majestic debut project, Muse.
As peaceful and serene as the world Alycia creates on Muse is, it’s one glaring flaw away from being perfect. Throughout the project’s 14 songs, the singer’s qualms with loneliness and her failed attempts to resolve it stand as a faulty canvas. No matter how she tries to paint love and its presence in her life, it ends up portraying a young woman who has yet again failed to secure the one and must return to wandering the hills and valleys of serenity without a companion.
The curtains for Muse open with soft echoes over the free-floating production of “Cue The Sun.” With the help of Westside Boogie, the singer seeks an end to the solo route she currently journeys. She and her partner have all but one thing in place to create the relationship of her dreams: commitment. Without it, the status of their partnership hangs by a weak, anxiety-filled thread that drives her as insane as a download stuck at 99%. Further into the album on “Something In The Water,” she begs her lover to take a moment to recenter their love as it currently lives on two separate pages. Unfortunately, her partner doesn’t seem to be interested in the idea. “You know I would walk with you / But you’ll just run,” she sings. “And tell me that I’m not keeping up with you.”
When her efforts to trade her loneliness for commitment come up short, it seems to only accentuate her displeasures with being the only character in her dreamland. As much as she has to offer, she’s left with individuals who cycle in and out of her life and display nothing more than the ability to run away faster than they ran to her. “You were never brave, good at runnin’,’’ she sings on “Mississippi Gun Rights.” Just like it would for any person might do after they’ve been run through the wringer of failed love over and over again, Alycia requests her wasted time be returned while labeling her old flame as selfish in the process. “I fucked with you like you fucked with you / You were never for me,” she sings on “Daylight Savings” in the pitched-down voice of her alter ego Muse 33.
Through the near successes at love and the confusion with one’s decision to waste her time, Alycia still strives for a companion to hold close when the day comes to an end. The world we currently live in is one that has been deprived of social interaction for the better part of a year, and that’s just on a platonic level. If intimacy hadn’t been found before the gates of normalcy were shut and locked up, the chances of obtaining it have only become riskier and more complicated. However, this only seems to make Alycia want a remedy to her lonely nights even more. “God, Drugs, And You” is an ode to the things mentioned in the title, with “You” being the only inconsistent item. “Dark Art” invites listeners to the dreadful drive back home to a bed colder than the winter nights Muse was released in.
There’s a certain vulnerability that’s needed for one to open about their desire for love as well as their seemingly never-ending road to finding it. Without a doubt, Alycia Bella possesses this attribute. One of the best qualities of Muse is its earthy, nonartificial aesthetic that blends effortlessly with Alycia’s ethereal vocals and earnest ballads. Even the most independent souls could use some love and here she proves that thought to be true. While others might leave their frustration of another day without love on the pillows they lay their heads on at night, Alycia keeps them pocketed throughout her days. It’s not that Alycia needs love in her life, but it’s near arrival — all for it to slip out of the grasps of her hands — make it more of a nuisance and that much more desirable.
Muse is out now via Hurt People, Hurt People. Get it here.