After three long years, Gracie Abrams has said “Good Riddance” to an era of EPs, finally releasing her debut album, “Good Riddance.”
Her first EP, “minor,” was released in July 2020 and took her brand of “bedroom pop” to another level: she played what she coined as “bedroom shows” for fans over Zoom due to the pandemic. The fifth track on this EP, “I Miss You, I’m Sorry,” still resonates with fans years later, remaining her most popular song to date. It was this EP that inspired the musical style Olivia Rodigo’s hit song “drivers license.”
Following the release of “minor,” Abrams released her sophomore EP “This Is What It Feels Like,” which, like her debut album, contains 12 tracks. In an interview with Teen Vogue, she said she considers it an EP rather than an album because the songs “felt like they were fragments of different times over my mental health recovery.” Whatever the reason, fans are excited to officially have her album in their hands.
“Good Riddance” delves into the multifaceted versions of heartbreak, ranging from the pain of breaking someone else’s heart to that of growing up and moving on from childhood. The feelings conveyed in the album reflect what many people experience, but few are able to put them into words as well as Abrams does.
In her opening track “Best,” she laments over her treatment of her ex, claiming “I never was the best to you…You fell hard, I thought ‘good riddance.’” This one-sided love is a recurring theme in her songs, something she mentions in her previous EPs as well as on other tracks in the album.
Another track from the album, “Where Do We Go Now?” reflects this, with Abrams admitting “when I kissed you back, I lied / You don’t know how hard I tried / Had to fake the longest time.” Sonically, it’s more upbeat than “Best” and opens with a quicker rhythm, but it’s not necessarily more cheerful. It is, after all, a song centered around a failed relationship.
Still, Abrams isn’t always completely removed from the relationship. In “I Know It Won’t Work,” she notes that “part of me wants you back, but / I know it won’t work like that, huh.” It’s a slight contrast from “Best,” which directly precedes it, noting the reluctance Abrams has in ending this relationship in the less peppy instrumental backings she chooses to use and giving the track a softer vibe.
The album’s lead single “Difficult” combines this self-awareness with Abrams’ struggle with growing up. In the second verse of the song, she emphasizes this, putting into words the fears of many college students and saying “I’ve been thinkin’ if I move out this year / I’ll feel my parents slipping / Away and also I’m just scared of that commitment.” For most people, moving out is simultaneously the most exciting and anxiety-inducing time of their lives.
The final track, “Right Now,” however, is where Abrams really dredges up the anxieties that come with leaving childhood behind. The song starts off slow, with bass slowly being added while she reminisces about her room and home. She sings, “Look at me, I feel homesick / Want my dog in the door / … / And the faint overhearing / Of my mom on the phone / Through the walls of my bedroom / Things that I shouldn’t know.”
It’s oddly specific and yet somehow universally relatable — almost every child remembers the feeling of eavesdropping on a conversation they shouldn’t have been listening to. Abrams grapples with this nostalgia alongside the guilt of enjoying her new life despite the fact that she’s no longer with her family — “Am I losin’ my family / Every minute I’m gone? / What if my little brother / Thinks my leavin’ was wrong?” While Abrams may be “more alive somehow,” the guilt that comes with believing that she’s abandoned her family and created a life separate from them is one that many young adults encounter, especially in their early 20s.
Despite the darker tones of these tracks, however, Abrams does include a more hopeful song in “The Blue.” In this song, she touches upon a new love that “came out of the blue like that,” but might be everything that she’s wanted. It’s a soothing lullaby of sorts, both lyrically and sonically, reminding listeners that there is more for them out there after a bad relationship — a refreshing perspective in an otherwise heartbreaking album.
Occasionally, Abrams seems to rely on her characteristic vocals too much, creating several songs that are extremely similar. Abrams could benefit from expanding and experimenting with different ways of layering her voice or with new genres.
Regardless, Abrams is extraordinarily talented, and her ability to not only be self-aware of the role her own actions played in her relationship but also to accept responsibility for them is the unique trait that may propel her success in the future.