EP Review: Maggie Lindemann forges her own path on ‘PARANOIA’

Lindemann commits to an exciting, edgy metal-infused pop sound.

Never before has it been so easy to become a pop star. With the rise of bedroom pop, playlisting, and social media personalities, there are more ways than ever before to build a following. At the same time, never has there been so much bad music out in the universe before either.

At just 22-years-old, Maggie Lindemann has been in the public eye for the better part of a decade, When her first singles dropped, she was releasing them to a populace that included over 1.1M Instagram followers. After six years of dropping one-off singles, Lindemann has released her first Extended Play PARANOIA. With it, she becomes one of the few worthwhile pop artists to emerge from this new social media age.

While so many of her contemporaries have decided to rehash the same R&B-infused Ariana Grande pop, Lindemann has made a successful play for the left of center. Where she still infuses trap beats and drum lines like in the haunting “GASLIGHT!” it’s not at the front and center of the sound. Rather, she veers toward an emo-pop sound that builds on the sound of 2000’s punk rockers like Fall Out Boy. Her sound is edgier than any of Avril Lavigne’s fantasies and, at its best, could compete with the nu-metal of Rina Sawayama.

Lindemann’s commitment to this sound should be commended, as she never sounds shy or apprehensive to embrace where her emotions and instrumentation take her. The production is full-bodied, making it feel hypnotically pop and rock at the same time while somehow avoiding the cringe of the “pop-rock” label. Every electric guitar rip sounds rich and full, benefitting from having a pop star’s production value. It’s consistently bold and reaffirms her talent at nearly every turn.

The title succinctly summarizes the mood of the album, as she tackles anxiety from a number of angles. Where she falters, however, is with her lyricism and content. The imagery is her Achilles heel: a “knife” under a pillow, Edward Scissorhands, and a “loner” in a dark room. It’s all too on the nose to impress on its own without the swaggering rock production. Instead of reaching for the unexpected and twisting it, Lindemann’s imagination seems more focused on fine-tuning her production. Where that slips – like at the end of the EP – there’s a considerable drop in quality.

For a debut project, PARANOIA is a sufficient introduction to a developing artist that leaves one with eyebrows raised, but not a mouth aghast. But that’s enough to make Maggie Lindemann an artist to watch.

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