Lou transcends expectations with ‘Paper Castles’

“Paper Castles” is Alice Phoebe Lou’s third album. (Photo credit Mikey Burey)

Christina Laderoute
Connector Staff

The self-released album “Paper Castles” by Alice Phoebe Lou lends itself to a whole new level of artistry. With otherworldly arrangements and celestial vocals, Lou manages to transport the listener to a different dimension. With 10 songs spanning 37 minutes, the listener will be left wanting more.

When it comes to categorizing this album into a specific genre, one might go as far as to say that it deserves its own genre entirely: Celestial. It pulls from indie, jazz and even rock at times.

The title track “Paper Castles” is full of synth and mystic minor chords. The layers that make up this song only make it better and better. With each listen, the listener is able to pick out new things each time around, whether it be lyrics or musical elements.

The second track, “Nostalgia,” is exactly what it says it is. A song about nostalgia and reminiscing upon the good times and memories you share with a partner. The synth and piano embellishments give the song a feeling of being from the ‘50s and is quite fitting for the theme of it.

The imagery throughout the song is quite poetic: “Your wide eyes that take me time traveling, it feels like swimming, swimming with my eyes closed, nose to nose, you just, you just [expletive] know.”

Lou’s vibrato adds a unique tone to her music that is unlike anything else on the radio right now.

One of the singles from the album, “Something Holy,” is full of raw and visual emotions that many listeners may relate to. Lou encapsulates the inner workings of her mind and heart into her music and in turn preserves herself in a beautiful work of art.

“And I’ll let you in, no need to ask, I wanna bask in your everything, my chest exploding, my mind eroding at the thought of you existing.”

Listeners cannot help but want to close their eyes and daydream of everything lovely.

“Skin Crawl,” possibly one of the best tracks from the album, is about taking a stand for yourself and not letting the patriarchy control you. The first verse takes a jump right in, saying, “Just don’t need to smile to be enjoying myself, don’t put me on a shelf, I’m not here for your enjoyment, your amusement.”

The song continues on and combats the old-fashioned stereotypes that a woman needs to have a prince by her side at the ball. This is a must-listen-to bop, and it could surely be one of the hits of Summer 2019.

“Don’t need to have a prince at my ball, how about right now I’m my own prince. Maybe I wouldn’t cease to exist without a man to do the hard things. Maybe you picked the wrong girl.”

The longest song and perhaps most ethereal track on “Paper Castles” is “Galaxies”. At just over five minutes long, Lou manages to capture an essence that feels both electronic and soulful. The vocals shift from soft and breathy in the beginning and transitions to a loose and carefree shout into the void (or into the galaxy). Her combination of soft and eclectic vocals is seamless and meshes perfectly with the production. 

“Ocean,” the closing song of the album, feels almost like a haunting bedtime lullaby. It starts off with the chime of a piano.  There is an eerie feeling to this tune as if it could fit perfectly in a scary movie. It seems more a tale of loss and despair than love and longing. This is a song that has to be heard to really grasp. It is quite difficult to describe the feeling it evokes.

Lou is currently on tour in the U.S. and will be making her way up to Canada and then to Europe come April and May.

“Paper Castles” is now available on all music platforms.

Christina Laderoute

Music writer/photographer. VP of marketing for UML's student-run record label, Seven Six Records.

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