Soft pop and indie singer ROLE MODEL exhibits his newfound confidence and peace of mind across his newest release “our little angel,” while simultaneously maintaining his melancholy emotional rawness and deft lyricism, tones characteristic of his past two EPs.
ROLE MODEL, the 23-year-old American singer born Tucker Pillsbury, is known for his slow-burn, emotionally riveting songs — such as previous tracks “minimal” and “Stolen Car.” These songs are emotional and melodic with occasional disruptions of spoken phrases rather than sung ones, and they have come to define his distinct style of music. The six-song EP presents a new dimension to ROLE MODEL’s lyricism and offers an optimistic change in tone.
The very first song on the EP, “alive,” sets the brightly colored, good-spirited tone of the EP flawlessly. “alive” celebrates a liberation from numbness and works as a launching point for the entire EP, as ROLE MODEL described in an interview with the music magazine Dork the day after “our little angel” was released.
“That song felt like a middle finger to everything I have been through, sort of like a rebirth. After recording that song I wanted to keep that feeling throughout, and there is this underlying tone of confidence in myself and embracing flaws,” ROLE MODEL said to Dork.
The second song on the EP, “for the people in the back,” sees ROLE MODEL continue to exude confidence through the upbeat, lively song, with lyrics embracing himself and fighting toxic masculinity. He sings, “And all dudes who acting tough could use some help on how to love / I found a place to be myself / And there’s not room for no one else.”
The focus of the EP shifts for the next two songs, “blind” and “doyouseeit,” highlighting the different stages of a romantic relationship. “blind” was the first single from this EP, released July 22. This feel-good song marks an exciting first for the singer, as he describes the happy beginning of a new relationship and the experience of being drawn in by everything someone does. He sings, “I think I’m going blind, I hope it doesn’t change / ‘Cause, I’ve never seen something quite like you.”
ROLE MODEL continues to fantasize about the next stages of a relationship, after the initial stages of adoration on the next track in the EP “doyouseeit.” A change in pace from the last two songs, the track offers a slower, melodic detour dedicated to the fantasy of a future with someone you love, with lyrics emphasizing the wistful tone: “And I saw it back in high school, thought we’d be together / There’s some things I never said but I been fallin’ for forever / We just never got the time right, waitin’ on the weather.”
The next track, “going out,” was the EP’s second single following “blind,” and was coined by fans as the “introverts’ anthem.” This song maintains the feel of his prior EP, “oh, how perfect,” as ROLE MODEL masks the feeling of numbness and loneliness with the upbeat and charming tone of the song. In an interview with the magazine i-D, ROLE MODEL described his process for writing about darker concepts like this one in his songs and masking them with light-hearted melodies.
“I’m very obsessed with juxtapositions. I like the idea of finding beauty in pain. I love the challenge of putting these things I’m going through, which are extremely dark, into big, beautiful, happy-sounding songs,” ROLE MODEL said to i-D.
ROLE MODEL closes his EP with “better the first time.” The song opens with simple guitar strumming, which offers gratifying variety to round out the album. The way the melancholy lyrics juxtapose yet complement the bright composition of the song serves as a testament to what makes ROLE MODEL so interesting as an artist. “better the first time” is the perfect versatile anthem to listen to while either singing and dancing, crying or anything in between.
This EP is especially relevant right now. As we collectively deal with the ennui of the current COVID-19 pandemic, songs like “alive” and “going out” highlight the contrast between the rush of feeling alive for the first time in a while and reluctance to leave the house at all.
ROLE MODEL’s “our little angel” offers inspiring evidence of his immense growth as an artist and person since his last release. This innovation bodes well for his future career, as he continues to pave his own way and establish himself as an artist. ROLE MODEL has previously said he hopes the main takeaway from his music is that “nobody’s perfect.” After the release of “our little angel,” ROLE MODEL left this important message to his fans: “I’ve accepted that my brain doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to, I’ve accepted that I’m not perfect. So, in a way, nothing has changed, I’ve just learned to accept the imperfections, and I can only hope it will help others do the same.”