Maisie Peters album review by EJ Scanlan
Maisie Peters. A young musician who had has already gained the whole country’s attention. Following from the likes of dodie, mxmtoon and KSI, she began her career as a YouTuber before delving into music. Her music was quickly spoken about by fans and music critics alike, resulting in her becoming the only artist in history to be nominated for the Prospect Music Award when she had only released one single, “Place We Were Made”, which is a gorgeous bedroom pop debut single which works on so many levels. Another single she released a year later titled “In My Head”, was also beautiful. The material since has been… questionable. Peters’ love it or hate it vocal style grated on me at times, and when I saw her live in London in 2019, the performance wasn’t particularly great.
Having said that, she’s just been signed to Gingerbread Man Records, the record label founded by pop polymath, Ed Sheeran, who’s previously signed acts such as Jamie Lawson and Foy Vance. Maisie also performed on the main stage at Latitude Festival, aka, the Obelisk Arena, earlier this summer, who attracted lots of spectators to watch her perform songs from this new record, “You Signed Up For This”, and she even got an interview on ITV’s Lorraine to talk about the record (she’s definitely made it now!). Going into the album, I’m both pessimistic because of her style but also optimistic that she can really pull something out the bag, but we’ll see as we dissect the album track by track.
The title track, “You Signed Up For This” starts off the album in an incredibly messy way. It’s a relatively good track overall, but the transitions are all over the place. The first thirty seconds have excellent potential, but is completely wasted by a unworthy build up. I enjoy the 90’s-00’s bedroom pop aesthetic and the repeat of the name of the title track, but this song has completely misused its potential which in turn, left me wanting a lot more which I didn’t get. The sophomore track however, “I’m Trying (Not Friends)”, had no potential whatsoever, and maybe one of the worst songs I’ve heard this year. The vocals are just dreadful, the production sounds awful, and the lyrics sound like they’d been written by an edgy five-year-old who knows four letter words. This is an incredibly hard listen, and I’m trying to say nice things about it, but I genuinely can’t find anything good to say about this song. My family brought me up to say “If you don’t like something, don’t say anything at all”, but this is my job, and I’m trying to be as nice as I can about it. Let’s just hope the low point of the album is here and that it gets better as it goes on (as I genuinely don’t ever want to listen to that song ever again).
“John Hughes Movie” follows, and it’s considerably better than the previous two tracks (mind you, not particularly hard), but it still has multiple flaws. The lyrics and production seem very predictable, like something you’d hear in some teenage romantic tragedy like “The Fault In Our Stars”, but I do enjoy this. It’s predictable, but fun and captures her market very well. “Outdoor Pool” is one of the most laughable songs I’ve ever heard, with some of the most awful lyrics ever written. These include: ‘I heard you took Rebecca to HMV’ and ‘then I heard by the science lockers Kate caught you kissing the French exchange.’ They genuinely sound like a nine-year-old writing lyrics wanting to be a musician. The song sounds dreadful all the way through, and quite genuinely, it’s atrocious (side note to my editor: I’m sorry for slating this, I’m trying my best here!).
Track five is the terribly titled “Love Him I Don’t”, a song that has awful verses, but the chorus’ have potential in the first act, but as always, that potential turns to something else entirely that annoyingly wastes it. It also doesn’t stay in my mind, it’s not great, but it’s not so bad that I remember it either. It just… exists. Peters’ highest-charting single “Psycho” is next, which sounds like Carly Rae Jepson and Owl City gone wrong. The track doesn’t work at all, besides the production, that is good for what the song is. It’s annoying, repetitive and is a real shame. It does, however, work as a pop song that’s in the charts, and I can see it doing well, despite me heavily disliking it.
“Boy” is an average song, however, is the strongest on the record so far. Its inspiration of 2000’s Natalie Imbruglia brings the nostalgia for people growing up in that era but also brings the modern pop sound to it. It works as a song, which is a sigh of relief for me, who’s slated the entirety of this record so far, but it isn’t near enough redeemable for what we had prior, but hoping this is the start of things to come. This is then followed by “Hollow”, which is the first song on this record that I genuinely like. The song is refreshing, it’s a beautiful ballad, making the most of the modern pop sound that Peters’ is trying to make here. It’s a bittersweet song with its lyrics, its production is gorgeous and Maisie’s vocals are really strong here too. This is what I’ve been wanting to hear this entire album! This is the sign I’ve been looking for, the potential Peters has as an artist being utilised. In regards to the rest of the album, it’s refreshing.
“Villain” is a gorgeously produced track and it’s one of Peters’ best too. The marketability of the song is great, it works well with her target market, but this entire song is a nice listen. While it has some flaws, as I dislike how she sings ‘I’m your villain’ and it kind of slightly ruins the track, it’s an innocent pop song that is a delight to listen to. “Brooklyn” goes back to “You Signed Up For This”’s bad habits that the previous tracks tried so hard to break, though I don’t think Peters is the problem, as the songwriting is great, it’s the overall production that lets it down for me. The chorus is great, but the verses are messy as hell, with the random drum beats added in without any warning halfway through. It’s like the producers want to sabotage her, and despite it not being deliberate, it’s like a collection of ideas rolled into one, and that makes me mad.
“Elvis Song” continues the 2020’s pop sound with good production all the way through. Its lyrics, however, as playful as they’re intended, are incredibly cliched and cheesy. Its bridge is very good, however. It’s a decent pop song, fun but very predictable. “Talking To Strangers” tells a story that doesn’t feel engaging at all. The song, like most of the record, will work well with Peters’ marketing demographic, but the overall sound comes across as bland and unalluring.
The penultimate track from “You Signed Up For This” is “Volcano”, which is a typical bedroom-pop ballad. Unremarkable vocals, not incredibly engaging, but a really nice chorus and some lovely production throughout. This then leads to the final track from the record, “Tough Act” (which its title doesn’t live up to the album’s overall disappointment) ends the album on a somewhat positive note. The simplicity of the song works well, and Peters’ vocals work well here, it just fades into the distance, like how this album will in time, I’m sure.
Overall, “You Signed Up For This” is an incredibly messy record that seems like it’s got lots of ideas all in one big 14-track LP. Most tracks are incredibly mediocre, some are great but there are some that people shouldn’t hear if I’m being honest. I was optimistic to hear the record, as I know despite my opinions on Maisie Peters as an artist and her work thus far, she has the potential to do very well within the pop music scene. What we were given was a record with a tracklist which was lazily put together, some mediocre songs almost all the way through, and tonnes, upon tonnes of wasted potential.
If you’re a fan of Peters’ work and you’re a fan of the likes of dodie, Gabrielle Aplin and want a cheesy record to listen to, “You Signed Up For This” is your album, but if you’re looking for the next best thing, incredibly well-executed tracks and something innovative, then listen to albums such as “Pink Noise” by Laura Mvula or “Happier Than Ever” by Billie Eilish, as “You Signed Up For This” isn’t that. I wish Peters the very best and I hope that one day in the future, she can live up to the potential she has.
“I’m Trying (Not Friends)”
Other bangers –
“John Hughes Movie”
“You Signed Up For This”
“Love Him I Don’t”