Recall that Cartoon Network’s The Powerpuff Girls had an opening sequence which explained how to create “super-powered” girls: mix sugar, spice, and everything nice — along with the “extra” ingredient, Chemical X. Alessia Cara’s new EP, This Summer, follows a similar formula, but with is own medley of ingredients. This recipe calls for a pinch of Lily Allen, a dash of Lorde, a sprinkling of Lana Del Rey, and another extra ingredient: a base layer of minimalist hip-hop. That’s not to say that creating an EP like This Summer is an easy or unoriginal undertaking, but rather that listeners of those listed artists will likely find a lot to like here. The underlying beats on This Summer are fairly simple, but always effective. Cara showcases a resounding command of her flow and use of syllabic emphasis to harmonize with the beat underneath, creating rhythms that worm their way into your brain.
This Summer should excite you for what Alessia Cara does next, because if this is just her having so much creative inspiration that she needs to churn out EPs and tracks like this, one can (and should) expect her music and career to only get better.
Musically, if this project was forced into a genre lane, it would fall right into the middle of the growing trend toward melancholy pop. Songs like “October” lean more toward that “melancholy” side, with a slower tempo and an almost unplugged, acoustic-heavy sound. Tracks such as “Okay Okay” and “What’s on Your Mind,” meanwhile, lean heavily into pop, with brass instruments added to a mix of uptempo beats, and emphasizing a seemingly higher production quality (especially “Okay Okay”). Cara also connects back to The Powerpuff Girls with lyrics on this EP, which tend to focus on female empowerment in the context of relationships and self image. Lines like “Being true to herself over any boy” (“Ready”), “I am not a second choice / If I’m not the first” (“Like You”), and “I’m a million trick pony” (“Okay Okay”) crop up throughout This Summer, and emphasize not only Cara’s own expression of self-empowerment, but also the broader feelings of female empowerment that have taken hold of American society, especially over the last decade. If you liked Cara before this EP, then This Summer is more of what you love. If you didn’t listen to Cara already, the 20 minutes that comprise this EP are perfect if you’re looking for a head-bobbing-feels-good-empowering-wait-play-that-last-track-again mix. In either case, This Summer should excite you for what Alessia Cara does next, because if this is just her having so much creative inspiration that she needs to churn out EPs and tracks like this, one can (and should) expect her music and career to only get better. This small sampling of the results of the ingredients that Cara’s mixing together is definitely moving towards something special.