“I’m tired of keeping all my feelings to myself,” Suki Waterhouse sings on the glacial glow of ‘Put Me Through It’, but on her debut album, she doesn’t hold anything back. The Sub Pop-backed ‘I Can’t Let Go’ presents us with an intimate portrait of the British musician and actor’s life, coloured with a rush of intense and powerful emotions. Far from bottling things up or shying away from these internal sensations, it’s a record that lets its creator – and, by extension, us – feel everything.
Waterhouse’s first full-length effort embraces the peaks and troughs of life, turning even its ugly, dark sides into beautiful songs to help carry you through your own turmoil. ‘Melrose Meltdown’ morphs from a gracefully eerie opening to a dazzling piece of dusky, cinematic indie and tells a Hollywood-worthy story of romantic drama. “Welcome to my Melrose Meltdown / Nobody ever breaks up, we just break down,” she sighs over a minimal backing. “We really fucked it up / In diamonds and drugstores.” The sun-kissed strum of ‘Bullshit On The Internet’, in part, deals with seeing an ex photographed with a new partner and, thanks to social media, is relatable even if your old lovers’ new relationships aren’t racking up column inches in gossip mags.
There’s a strength and resilience to ‘I Can’t Let Go’ that comes from owning every angle of emotion and its creator letting herself take charge in situations that might lead to pain. “I’ma put some goddamn moves on you babe, I know you need it / Die a double death for you, death for your secrets,” she asserts on ‘Moves’, while the slinky ‘Devil I Know’ sees her knowingly sink into circumstances that are probably best avoided. “Back in hell, at least I’m comfortable,” Waterhouse shrugs on its chorus. “Hand to heart, I’m gonna stay faithful / To the devil I know.”
Throughout the album, the star drops hints at her influences – a tinge of Lana Del Rey and Mazzy Star there, a splash of Fiona Apple and Lucinda Williams there. Largely, though, the record twists those inspirations into her own brittle sound that complements the undercurrent of fragility running through the songs.
Like that line in ‘Put Me Through It’ suggests, Waterhouse was nervous to share her personal songwriting with the world. On her debut album, though, she overcomes that fear in impressive form – it might have taken six years to get here from her debut single, but ‘I Can’t Let Go’ was well worth the wait.
Release date: May 6
Record label: Sub Pop