In this world of bland, unchallenging chart pop, where a small pool of blankly pretty boys and girls mumble a few words over each others’ tracks to the same sanitised, autotuned backing, we need pop stars like Rae Morris. Pop stars who sing lyrics like “I don’t want no ice, I’m already cold enough” and “have they found a cure for me yet?” in a voice of liquid crystal, and who release such outrageously, inventively compelling and tuneful albums as “Someone Out There”.
This is an album of delightful surprises from start to finish, brimming with the joy of words. Can you tell me when you last heard a pop song that used a word simply because it sounded good, and right, regardless of sense? What does Rae mean when she describes herself as “Atletico” after failing to chat up some luscious young thing? Was she doing press-ups to assuage her regret? But you just try to listen to this song without swaying along and warbling “beautiful beautiful beautiful boy”, I dare you.
The lyrics on this album turn frequently to themes of sex and identity. The concept of names comes up repeatedly, and their relation to your true self: “Reborn” asks the listener to “find a new name for me” whereas “Do It” recognizes a kindred soul who “calls me by my real name”. This record sparkles with unexpected lyrical turns that make your brain light up as you dance to the uncontrollably catchy tunes. Poetry and sex are conflated regularly, with the concept of bodies “rhyming” cropping up repeatedly as a metaphor for physical compatibility.
And despite being a bit quirky and left field, everything is so frighteningly relatable. There are so many beautiful, unexpected ways of asking a boy to shag you. “Could we lower the tone?” is definitely one I’m keeping in stock next time I spot someone delightful. And “Lower the Tone” is frankly beyond adjectives. This is an album full of gorgeous, inventive synth lines, and while “Wait for the rain” ends with a downpour of screeching electronica joy, “Lower the Tone” is best of all, propelled by the most yearning, desperately despairingly elated synth refrain I’ve heard in years. “Your dark side is beautiful… together we unravel”: this song seethes with the sheer poetry of doing IT. “You lock and you load, deliver me all of your loving” would in other hands be a lascivious, dirty refrain – and nothing wrong with that! – but here, it is a joyous exclamation of beauty, freedom and power.
“We could write another duet, or instead babe, we could just do it”. How gloriously, beautifully direct, an approach to love for those of us who might be feminists while not being quite able to be brash and loud in our declarations of lust. This refreshing approach to sex is repeated in the bouncy, sparklingly melodic “Dip A Toe”: “Doing it for the first time! We better hope our bodies rhyme!” A glorious ode to enthusiastic consent – if that’s possible – Rae sings to her intenteded “If you like me let me know / if the sparks don’t fly you can wave bye-bye”.
“Physical Form” is darker, talking of loneliness and isolation, of “making friends with all four walls, cos you thought when you turn your back you’ll do no harm”, in sweeping, catapulting melodic swoops. Even the slightly mawkish ballads become great in this setting: the happy acceptance of the lovely weirdness of being alive in this ridiculous life. The plaintively confident title track promises: “You can rest assured you’re not the only one”. As with all such platitudes, quite who this someone out there who loves you might be is not elucidated, but that doesn’t stop this being a supremely uplifiting ode to positive thinking.
And then there’s “Rose Garden”, with its dark, stuttering synths straight out of 90s trance techno, a vocal out of the iconic depths of late 90s pop like Kylie’s “Impossible Princess” and a melody alternately strident and soothing. It’s utterly unlike anything in the current pop landscape and completely compelling.
And you should buy this on CD because there is some beautiful artwork, complete with Rae’s handwritten lyrics. And because when you buy a CD rather than just streaming on Spotify, you invite the music into your life, it becomes a part of your life story, and you are just that little bit altered forever. Just that little bit reborn. And no album deserves your attention this year so far more than “Someone Out There”.
“Someone Out There” is an album full of everything you need in life: poetry, love, sex, synths and glorious, glorious tunes. You need to listen to it, NOW. At the very least, stream it. Take your guard down and just do it. Do it. Do it. Do it. Do it. Do it. Do it.