If Eloise didn’t make an EP like ‘This Thing Called Living’ in 2019, someone else would have. The London-born, Normandy-raised artist – known mononymously by her first name – began her career making invisibly popular chill-pop that was ripe for café playlists and video montages of summer memories. Her early material floated along like dust in the sunlight; the tracks were luminous, airy and pretty, but felt innocuous, and could easily get lost in the background.
As a loose concept record about the many subtleties of love and distance, ‘Drunk On A Flight’, Eloise’s long-awaited debut album, is more than corrective action: it’s a display of the quietly subversive details she’s slowly honed over the past few years. Even if the aura of her songs still leans towards the lo-fi – similar to the spacious production flourishes of Washed Out or Toro Y Moi – her debut album offers a conscious step forward, particularly lyrically. It pares away its predecessors’ generalisations on growing up and replaces it with sharp details born of personal experience.
Much of the album has a tight, internal focus: it’s largely about walking the line between thrill and terror of getting what you want. Eloise has said that the title track was inspired by the time she hopped on a long-distance flight mere hours after a break-up; as she sings of overthinking her past relationship while simultaneously drinking too much on the plane, you can picture her staring out of the window with her eyes wide open, ready to experience something new. Unable to revel in the giddy thrill of standing before this boy and telling him to buzz off, the unlimited glasses of Sauvignon Blanc will have to do.
There’s been a surfeit of self-determination in pop from young, breaking artists over recent years – you only have to turn to Dylan’s 2022 ‘No Romeo’ EP or Cat Burns’ smash hit ‘Go’ – but Eloise’s approach is particularly acute and unsparing. “I’m sorry if my lack of empathy makes you sad,” she sings on ‘Therapist’; “Well I hope it fucking rains on you,” she tells a flaky ex on ‘Giant Feelings’. She’s an enviably candid lyricist, seeing each song as an opportunity for growth, no matter how uncomfortable. Her writing carries the potential to strike a personal chord for anyone who’s ever managed to outsmart a narcissist.
The arrangements are often just as characterful too, and Eloise’s attempts to gently push her sound outwards are admirable and promising. There’s a disquieting hint of sourness to the distorted layers on ‘Take It Back’, while ‘Vanilla Tobacco’ is peppered with moments of record scratching. They may be far from revolutionary, but the fullness of Eloise’s new vision vibrates in these tender details. On ‘Drunk On A Flight’, she rejects all previous expectations of her music and demands better from herself.
- Release date: April 14
- Record label: AWAL