Listening to Lizzy McAlpine is like sinking into your bed at the end of a long day, FaceTiming your best friend and letting it all out. You can never tell where the conversation will go, but it doesn’t matter — because it always still feels right.
Her latest album, five seconds flat — the follow-up to Give Me A Minute, which propelled her to into the limelight — proves she shouldn’t be confined to a genre of TikTok fame or to the songs that first made her name become as familiar as home. Acknowledge every facet of her musicianship, and keep recognizing her for what she’s doing now. She just keeps getting better, anyway.
Five seconds flat is a 14-track, 45-minute trip throughout the entire spectrum of emotion, making lengthy stops at overwhelming love and heartbreak before teetering on renewal. It’s an album to blast when the world feels listless and cold, but it also pairs well with taking a walk as the afternoon fades into evening and the blistering sun turns into cool air. No matter the state you’re in as you’re pressing headphones into your ears, the album’s healing qualities will find their way to you.
Though the album holds an endless number of glistening moments, the greatest comes via “ceilings,” which is the best song of the year thus far. The track opens with a gentle acoustic riff that feels as if it was made for a coming-of-age film, possibly a shot of a small city where bikers roam, shops open for the day and two people begin their path to each other.
As soon as McAlpine gapes her mouth, the soundscape is washed over with a wave of solace. Her vocals are as gentle as raindrops sliding down car windows, and her lyrics of wanting to be next to the person she loves forever are too sweet to be condensed to a description.
Strings build to accent the moment and die off when McAlpine only needs words to explain. Of course, the track ends with a smack of reality, settling into the realization that this kind of love may only be felt on screen — a dose of inconsolable melancholia, yet it still feels so good.
The heartbreak doesn’t stop there, either. “Chemtrails,” trickling by with steady clicks of a piano, delineates McAlpine’s devastating letter to her father, who died a couple of years ago. There’s “hate to be lame,” a soothing collaboration with FINNEAS, where the confusion of a potential relationship leaves McAlpine completely in flux. There are more upbeat moments like “reckless driving (feat. Ben Kessler)” that describe intense love but still end with a tinge of melancholia. If it was completely happy, it wouldn’t be McAlpine (not like anyone would want it any differently).
Not enough can be said about five seconds flat. The title comes from a line in the closer, “orange show speedway,” when she describes the moment someone chases after love that’ll soon swallow them whole. Coincidentally, it’s also a clue as to how much time it takes to fall in love with the album.