Sound Advice: Allie X

I recently decided to dive deep into Alexandra Hughes’ (better known by her stage-name Allie X) debut album, CollXtion 1, to see what all the hype was about.

Allie, influenced by nationally acclaimed artists such as Beyoncé, the Weeknd and Lana Del Rey, has emerged from her home studio in Toronto and has been thrusted into national spotlight seemingly overnight, according to an interview with Billboard last year.
In March 2014, the singer’s single “Catch” (2014) was spotlighted by pop-mogul Katy Perry on Perry’s Instagram, saying that she was “currently obsessed” with the newly released track.

Along with all the recent attention put on the singer-songwriter, it seems as if music outlets around the globe have been praising the album. Popular music blog Pitchfork said “Catch” was “quite the introduction” for the Toronto-born artist, and Renowned for Sound, another popular music blog, said the album is “a successful attempt to take pop music and turn it on its head.”

After hours of scrutiny, I can understand the buzz over the budding artist. CollXtion 1 is a spunky yet eerie twist to the traditional genre.

The album is strong because no song outshines the rest — each holds its own.

The album’s opener, “Hello,” offers the light and spacy pop vibe made popular by Katy Perry and Taylor Swift, but Allie’s vocals are strong and stray from the pop norm. There’s something unique about the high-pitched notes hit in “Hello” which makes me want to believe that electro-pop singer Marina and the Diamonds had some input on the way Allie recorded the track.

Despite the modern, synth-pop notes that exist throughout the album, “Prime” breaks from the pattern. The song uses layered vocals and harder synth tones reminiscent of the pre-Madonna age of hit ‘80s dance music to create a song that is both refreshing and dynamic on its own.

The crown jewel of the album, though, is “Bitch” – and it’s pure ecstasy. It’s the ideal mix of alternative rock duo Tegan and Sara-like fuzzed out vocals and beating baseline. It’s hard. It’s real. The track abandons the album’s laid out strong pop structure and gives Allie the room to breathe and become something more than another aspiring, bubbly artist.

allie xThroughout interviews, Allie describes her desire to remain out of the spotlight and break the barriers of traditional pop music, and “Bitch” does that. It’s not pop, and it’s not indie-pop. It’s just Allie.

That’s what CollXtion 1 is. It’s Allie X in her most refined form.

Normally I stray from upcoming pop musicians. The genre hasn’t sparked my interest much (besides the moments when I’m screaming out all the lyrics to Adele’s “Hello” while sweeping my apartment). Yet Allie managed to capture my attention. Although some singles on the album, namely the sixth track, “Good,” sound like an unsure mix of synth-pop and soft pop, the album as a whole is a fantastic introduction to Allie’s career as a musician.

She has the voice and personality to make her career something great. If CollXtion 1 is any determinant of her future, Allie X is sure to continue captivating listeners with her unique take on pop music.

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