The Los Angeles singer-songwriter tackles twenty-something miseries on her debut EP.
Someone save the twenty-somethings.
Or at least send them your sympathies — commiseration is appreciated at a time like this. It’s the stage where “the future” is no longer a distant fantasy, where “when I grow up” is closer to the next week than it is the next decade. You’re too old for those teenage mistakes but too young to truly move past them, old enough to accept the responsibilities of adult living but young enough to still be scared of them. It’s an awkward, in-the-middle phase of life that offers the worst of both worlds — professional woes and long-term career decisions coupled with relationship anxieties and personal insecurities of a bygone adolescence.
Wallice is right there with us, but with her star on the rise and a statement EP to back it up, she’s probably faring a little better. The 22-year-old indie upstart cements her climbing status with Off The Rails, a six-track collection dedicated to the turbulent twenty-somethings and all the confusion they can bring. It’s honest, relatable to a fault, and anchored by dynamic indie pop/rock sounds that keeps it interesting but never feels intrusive.
Thematically, Off The Rails is an absolute mess — and that’s a compliment. Wallice’s descriptions of her off-kilter escapades are cringe-inducing, so detailed that it feels like you’re living them with her (if you’re within the EP’s target audience, chances are you’ve experienced something similar). The opening title track wastes no time tackling a twenty-something’s characteristic lack of funds, passing off the consequences to a later date with promises to improve before eventually conceding “my life’s a mess but I don’t give a shit, never try my best I learn to live with it.”
The idea of never measuring up presents a pair of dueling emotions — intense fear and apathetic acceptance. Wallice effortlessly toggles between the two throughout the EP, perhaps most overtly on pervious single “23.” A shameless jazz school dropout, she speaks on the uncomfortable period of limbo between halting your last move and figuring out your next one. “23” presents a picket-fence vision of the future painted from the walls of your childhood bedroom — a rosy but vague “someday” that’s more escapist than it is effective. It’s a track that promises to get everything together in the midst of everything falling apart, and it switches from the veil of sarcasm to glaring moments of sincerity on a dime. The chorus sees her quipping about feeling “all grown up at 23” (an age she’ll reach in mere weeks), but the verses are painfully honest, pulling back the curtain to reveal the insecurities that uncertainty elicits.
Relationship perils make up the other dominant half of the lyricism on Off The Rails. “Punching Bag” sees Wallice pining for a lover who couldn’t care less, offering herself up as the titular object for emotional manipulation at the hands of the object of her affection. It’s filled with nuggets of Gen-Z relatability — a Hydro Flask name drop makes its way into the second verse — but the emotional core spans generations. “Dramamine” expresses that same will to be wanted, desperately grasping for the right words to appear desirable to a man who’s impossible to please. We know this man, maybe we even are this man: an overgrown, emotionally unavailable teenager masquerading as a mature, well-adjusted adult. He’s the subject of other tracks, too, namely “Hey Michael” ft. Wallice’s indie rock contemporary marinelli,” and closer “Headache.” In contrast to earlier sentiments of desire, these last three tracks are over it. Wallice’s boredom is palatable here, and it emphasizes the air of nonchalance that characterizes all of Off The Rails. “You’re wasting my time,” she dismisses in “Headache.” There’s no dramatic breakup in sight, but she’s moved on.
Instrumentally, Off The Rails latches onto the DIY soundscapes dominating popular music. Everything sounds like it was filtered through a phone speaker — thick, fuzzy guitars; Wallice’s layered vocals; sharp snares and a simple kick drum backdrop to support it. Electronic elements find their way through synth-y chords, tones, and basslines, but most of the instrumentation stays relatively simple. It’s accessible and catchy, not overly complicated to the point of alienating the listener and perfectly suited to the short, understated structure of most of the tracks. Primed for quick TikTok soundbites or easy afternoon listening, Off The Rails knows what its target of teens and twenty-somethings wants to hear.
Perfectly aligned with the sentiments of her generation, Wallice has her finger on both the thematic and instrumental pulse of the current music landscape. Off The Rails is a strong project from a promising up-and-comer, and if the EP is any indication, her name is something we should get used to seeing. She may not be the savior of all twenty-somethings, but with a collection of songs that capture the quintessential experiences of her peers, at least we know Wallice is along for the ride.
Check out Off The Rails below!