Release Date: 21st August 2020
"What I Never Told You feels like witnessing youth grow into adulthood, exploring themes of unrequited love, friendship, and new cities."
Queen of the acoustics, Odina burst onto the scene in 2016. Since then, she’s released a myriad of EPs, with her cover of Joy Division’s seminal track ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ garnering over ten million streams on Spotify. It’s safe to say that this debut has been hotly anticipated.
What I Never Told You is a hauntingly beautiful debut that tells stories of love, youth, and friendship. It feels like witnessing youth grow into adulthood, exploring themes of unrequited love, friendship, and new cities. With parts of the project recorded in her parents’ basement and parts in a studio, What I Never Told You is the product of growing up and moving away.
Somehow, it simultaneously feels like a reflection of the past and a description of the present. The entire project, almost folky in some places, feels akin to a nostalgic trip down memory lane; fitting for the end of summer, where this kind of introspective, reflective thinking is common. With twelve songs resting at a total of thirty-nine minutes, this body of work is easily digestible. It makes for easy, though pleasant listening.
The album starts off fairly timid. ‘To The Ground’ makes no pretences, exclaiming from the get-go: “save me from myself / tell me what I want to hear.” This track toys with the idea of identity and belonging, which is fitting for a musician that moved from rustic Catalonia to London: “Is it right here, where I belong?” This sentiment sets the tone for the album, which explores identity: what does it mean to be a young adult? Can you feel at home in a new, sometimes unfamiliar environment? These are all questions Odina sets out to answer in this project. And does she answer them? In places, yes.
Overtly autotuned, almost machine-like vocals on ‘Old’ feeling almost like a reference to Imogen Heap. From the beginning, it reflects emotional vulnerability. ‘1234’, a familiar single, is a simple anti-love song which will no doubt resonate with much of the younger generation: “I’ll die waiting, and you’ll die for her.”
Interestingly, the tracks get bolder as the album progresses. Starting off with fairly timid, quiet songs at the beginning in the form of ‘To The Ground’ and ‘1234’, later tracks, namely ‘Primrose Hill’ and ‘Friend - Goodbye’ erupt into a crescendo of sonics infinitely more confident, more secure in their identity than the first half of the album.
‘Primrose Hill’ is the strongest track. Wading through a sea of reverbing guitar riffs, Odina states, in an almost existential tone: “you wouldn’t know that I have nowhere to be”, reflecting the newfound, oftentimes scary, freedom of adulthood. Here, Odina’s narrative embraces existentialism; reflecting that, just maybe, it’s okay to not know what happens next. This is a particularly valuable lesson to any millennial. The placement of this track in the latter half of the album feels like witnessing a newfound sense of identity, once which perhaps wasn’t present, or was in flux, towards the beginning.
The only criticism to be made is that, at times, the tracks abruptly move from timidity to confidence in a split second. Perhaps this is deliberate, reflecting a youthful sense of restlessness or impermanence.
Odina has accomplished everything she set out to achieve. Nothing is overly complicated or pretentious: here, Odina basks in the simplistic beauty of soft vocals, synth and reverbing guitar common in contemporary alt-pop. Put simply, she is a master at what she does. Sometimes, less is more, and What I Never Told You is a brilliantly executed debut.
Words by Eleanor Noyce.
24th August 2020.