Current obsession: Alessia Cara’s freshly dropped album (and her DIY music videos)

Alessia Cara has been blowing up radio stations and party playlists since she dropped “Here,” her first formal single earlier this year. An anti-social anthem buoyed by an interesting choice of sample, former YouTube cover singer Cara waxes about how much she wants to go home from a party, waving off strangers by exclaiming “So tell my friends that I’ll be over here” and then asking herself “What am I doing here?”

It’s a little bit killjoy-ish but also totally relatable — we’ve all been dragged to a function and then promptly abandoned or lost in the general vibe, making us pine for those quieter, smaller, and more genuine get-togethers. The song is a welcome respite from Top 40 that seems preternaturally obsessed with partying, drinking and drugs, and having the best time ever, all the time — “Here” is a reminder that in the day-by-day, most of us aren’t hitting the club, continually falling head-over-heels with people, having epic adventures, and err, “cooking pies.” Instead, we’re just trying to figure out whatever thing we’re doing at the time.

With Cara’s youth (she’s 19), her voice, and her non-ALL-OF-THE-SOUNDS electronic production, she’s drawn comparisons to Lorde. But her songs have a definite R&B/soul bent missing from pop’s dark princess. (A writer I follow called her the “second coming of Stacie Orrico.”) With a song like “Here” making waves right out of the gate, what would her first release sound like? Well, now we know — Cara dropped the rest of her Four Pink Walls EP yesterday, but included with each track: A DIY music video. Oh, you bet she’s a Beyoncé fan.

The songs are split in sentiment between “Can you believe I made it!” (“Four Pink Walls”), love songs that toe the line between cute and sugary and ultimately land on the former (“Outlaws,” “I’m Yours”), and growing up (“Seventeen”), but through it all, Cara’s slightly sardonic but sincere voice shines through, especially in her videos. “I’m Yours” is framed as her not wanting to fall in love but begrudgingly admitting that yes, it’s real; the video shows Cara wielding a selfie stick and being pursued by a mustachioed unwanted love interest (played gamely by her brother). Then, there’s “Seventeen,” with its wistful look back at a couple of years, and “Four Pink Walls,” which traces her excitement at finally breaking out of her childhood bedroom (“I assumed that there was only room for my dreams in my dreams”). There’s also Cara playing around with video filters and clever editing.

“Here” caught our attention, but the rest of Four Pink Walls shows that Cara’s a pop voice with staying power. Watch and listen below:

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