Alma-Sofia Miettinen has been pinned as Finland’s next great pop hope. The 23-year-old artist, who rose to fame on the 2013 edition of the TV talent show Idols, her homeland’s answer to Pop Idol, has since gone onto bigger things. She’s achieved Platinum-selling singles (‘Chasing Highs’, ‘Karma’) and a Gold-certified debut EP (2016’s ‘Dye My Hair’) and developed a bulging contacts book, having penned songs for the likes of Ariana Grande and Miley Cyrus.
And ALMA‘s made some of her sharpest songs yet on debut album ‘Have You Seen Her?’, whether she’s embracing her party girl status (‘Nightmare, ‘Bad News Baby’, ‘Worst Behaviour’) or dealing with fake friends (‘LA Money’) and growing tired of newfound fame (‘King Of The Castle’). Previously, as with ‘Chasing Highs’, she hid more behind formulaic, tropical pop house that could soundtrack Love Island, with trite lyrics about dancefloor romance. ‘Have U Seen Her?’ instead explores a darker mood and is stuffed with irresistible pop hooks, trap beats, spooky synths and melodic R&B jams – and all with deeply personal stories at the core.
‘Worst Behaviour’, featuring Swedish pop powerhouse Tove Lo, sees ALMA lay things on the table: “I don’t really care what you think of me… You don’t need to judge how I blow off steam”. Her hedonistic attitude is mirrored by skipping breakbeats and party shouts of “If you wanna go – then go hard”. The catchy ‘Bad News Baby’ thrusts forward with militaristic beats and sub-bass growls and ‘Nightmare’ dips and dives with staccato brass blasts and trap claps. “Your mom thinks I gave your sister some molly,” the fluorescent-haired star admits. “She asks me if all I do is party.”
If the record’s first half advocates reckless fun, its second examines that frivolity more deeply. On plush R&B number ‘My Girl’, ALMA begin to question her own behaviour after she succumbs to a girl who “puts a pill on my tongue”. Later, on the skulking ‘Find Me’, she subtly channels the melody of Miley Cyrus’ party anthem ‘We Can’t Stop’, but stops short of glamourising total hedonism, assessing the dark side of those nights out where you get lost and have a “hundred missed calls”. On the zippy ‘Loser’ she sums it all up: “I’ve got trouble with my DNA”.
Although it’s musically one of the record’s weaker tracks, with its twinkly synths and slow-mo beats, ‘Final Fantasy’ sees ALMA expose her vulnerabilities as she tells a lover: “You got a pretty face / Don’t waste it on me, babe”. The lyrical complexity of this mostly killer, little filler debut suggests that the singer, prone to pop bangers and searing confessionals, will dig up more compelling insecurities for whatever’s next.
Release date: May 15
Record label: Epic / RCA/ Warner & PME