Album Review: Grace McLean – My Lovely Enemy

My Lovely Enemy is a wildly creative and immersive debut album from expansive, incomparable avant-garde artist Grace McLean

Armed with an intoxicating, avant-garde pop sound that is packed full of immersive layers and creative ideas, Grace McLean is a fiercely unique artist who has spent over a decade now establishing and continuing to develop and evolve a style that feels entirely her own, packed full of creativity, left-field ideas, and a verve and sense of life that feels invigorating and exciting, culminating in the release of her brand new debut album My Lovely Enemy.

This creativity immediately manifests itself in the album’s expansive and restless opener in the form of title track ‘My Lovely Enemy’, the expressive and layered nature of the sound is in full force immediately here, alongside the artist’s illuminating and unpredictable vocals and an indelible sense of fun and energetic charm that sets the table for what is to come in alluring fashion.

The energy flows seamlessly into ‘Reckless’, a track that is packed full of dynamic sonic quirks and intriguing moments that it would take repeat listens to completely unpack and get your head around, making for a sound that never loses its lustre and compelling feel, continuing to reveal itself and create a sense of wonder and enchanting appeal the further that you delve into its immersive nature. The juxtaposition between the idea of wanting to be ‘Reckless’ and the sheer grace and beauty of the artist’s sound making for an interesting contrast.

The artist delves into more poignant territory on her single ‘Albertine’, a track that the artist crafted in the aftermath of a breakup, and one that immediately embodies the kind of gravity and reverence that comes with such territory. As always, the track feels like you could spend hours dissecting it, analysing her lyrical imagery and the sheer depth of her writing, and its yearning and grieving nature in the aftermath of such a transformational moment comes to life in a compelling fashion that leaves a profound effect on you as a listener.

Something else that highlights just how creative and unique the artist is comes in the form of ‘Day Satisfaction’, a track that takes the classic Rolling Stones single ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ and The Beatles’ ‘Day Tripper’ and reworks them into something that feels like its own monster completely, seeing it mutate into something unrecognisable that has the artist’s unique DNA and appeal all over it, seamless in its appeal and charm while also feeling confounding and perplexing. A true masterclass in the artist’s ability to make anything feel her own thanks to the overwhelming uniqueness and appeal of her sound.

‘Gazelle’ again delves into the gorgeous, atmospheric feel of the artist’s layered vocals and ethereal soundscapes, making for an otherworldly sound that feels genuinely unlike anything else, while holding your attention in captivating fashion and never letting go throughout its duration. Grace has this uncanny tendency throughout this album to put sounds together that feel completely and entirely different to anything that you’ve heard before without ever sacrificing any of their engrossing and melodic nature. This feels like artistry and talent in its purest and most original form, and it does all of this while feeling infectious and addictive in the process.

The initially more stripped-back and slow-burning ‘Living Light’ allows the engrossing tone of the artist’s vocals to shine, building in powerful and dynamic fashion towards a climax that feels increasingly intense and stirring as it progresses, never losing the sense of composure and grace that has embodied the appeal of the album, but building a palpable tension in the process.

‘Haven’t You Noticed’ is a more narrative-led track that sees the artist delving back into themes like relationships and love, with her thoughtful musings and honest openness making for one of the album’s more tender moments lyrically, with the artist admitting to her feelings in relatable fashion while delving into all of the reasons why she feels the way that she does, with the warm strings and stirring soundscape elevating an already stunning track to soaring heights.

The more calculated and slick ‘Ocean Vapour’ feels like an ice cool counterpart to what just came before it, with the artist adopting a more cerebral approach that uses powerful imagery and a moodier and more atmospheric sound to create a darker aura that feels just as enticing but for completely different reasons, with these two tracks showcasing two entirely different sides of the artist’s engrossing appeal, wildly different but tied together by the daring nature of the artist’s style.

The album closes with ‘Everbody Loves’, a shapeshifter of a track that feels like it encapsulates all of the different facets of the artist’s dizzyingly expansive sound, ranging from moments that feel unapologetically fierce, to soulful, to avant-garde and unexpected. The track feels like a fitting way to end an album that has showcased such guile and dynamism from the artist, unpredictable and rousing until the very end.

My Lovely Enemy is an album of contrasts and juxtaposition as its title suggests, and a narrative that explores themes like love and relationships and their unpredictable nature is buoyed emphatically by a sound that is capable of creating such a wide range of moods and ideas thanks to Grace McLean’s immeasurable talent and the personality and charisma that she injects into everything that she does. The highs feel soaring and incomparable while the moodier moments feel scathing and dark, and this is all thanks to the sheer tenacity and whole-hearted nature of the artist and her magnetic sound, making for an album that feels truly one of a kind and instantly unforgettable as a result.