The music industry sits in a very interesting position. In the ongoing pandemic, artists are finding an increasing number of ways to connect with fans, market themselves, and maintain the diminishing attention spans of their global audiences.
This ‘in one ear, out the other’ mentality makes it difficult to make a lasting impact across genres, especially when it comes to pop music. New young artists have shorter album cycles. Artists like Olivia Rodrigo are already ideating on a second album within their first year of release. Others like Billie Eilish, who is only the 3rd year of her label supported career, have been deemed to be in their sophomore slump that much quicker than their predecessors.
In these fast times, it’s tough to break the track record. Enter Remi Wolf.
A 25 year-old California native, Remi Wolf has been through periods of growth already. She debuted on American Idol in 2014 while still in high school. A few years later, she attained a degree from USC’s Thornton School of Music.
It wasn’t until 2019 when Wolf debuted her first EP, You’re a Dog!
The collection’s 2000s retro photo booth aesthetics and funk infused pop sound caught the eyes of a pretty large audience for an indie artist. Continuing that motif with the impeccable I’m Allergic to Dogs EP, Wolf remained persistent in cementing her fresh take on what pop music should and can sound like in 2020.
Finally this year, Remi Wolf officially arrived in the form of her debut album Juno, you guessed it, named for her dog and best friend through quarantine. While its named for and inspired by her dog, the album is an encapsulation of the complex, wholly unique mind of the artist at the helm.
For the most part, Juno enriches the electropop-funk sonics of Wolf’s first two EPs. Spotlighting some of the most creative songwriting in pop, the album is a sweeping showcase of intricacies of a young person navigating their 20s throughout a pandemic, the minefield of social life, and the relationship pool.
Its presentation is laid back, loose and free, but the songs feel intricate and lived in. On “Liquor Store,” Wolf opens the album discussing her alcoholism and relationship insecurities. With songs like “Guerrilla,” the songstress weaves together a fresh narrative of the warfare that comes with a house party. On “wyd” and “Quiet On Set,” she delves into the growing demands of an artist seeing success and the pressure thereafter that comes from the team surrounding her with branding, marketing, and unsolicited (wink) wisdom.
The album also delves deeply into modern romance and relationships. The closer, “Street You Live On,” takes a common theme and drenches it in vocal pitching and a poppy backbeat. The track, along with others like “Volkiano,” exemplify Wolf’s willingness for vulnerability.
Lyrics like Volkiano’s “I’m a flunk, I’m a dead white lighter. You have spunk you’re a twelve-leg spider,” detail her attitudes toward a lover in a way not many others can. The song’s metaphor of an explosive, volcanic relationship is just one of many that makes Wolf’s music so compelling.
Wolf turns vulnerability into power, flipping the script on “Sexy Villain.” Her best “bad guy” impression, the laid back tune is an album highlight. It presents a confident character in Remi, adopting a bravado through sleek guitar backing and creative storytelling.
In fact, what continues to set Remi Wolf apart from her pop contemporaries is her inventive lyricism and production on these tracks. The songwriting takes familiar themes and applies so many new angles and approaches.
With its rule-breaking and inventive free spirit, Juno easily takes the prize of the best pop album to release in 2021. It appears Remi Wolf will likely become pop’s newest it girl.
Catch her touring with Lorde on the Solar Power tour and her own solo run in support of Juno early next year.