Published April 3, 2023
BY EMMA BROWN
Utilizing acoustic sounds and somber lyrics, Gracie Abrams reflects on her anxieties and past mistakes in her debut album, “Good Riddance.”
Abrams’ record reveals a pattern of self-deprecation as she acknowledges her faults in previous relationships over the course of several songs. In the album’s introduction, “Best,” Abrams converses with a past partner, explaining how her cynical attitude about love made her harsh in the face of affection. Similar to “Best,” the lead single “Where Do We Go Now?” serves as a confession for the singer, allowing her to face her own faults and concede that she destroyed the relationship because of her unwillingness to communicate. As a whole, “Good Riddance” is a dramatic reckoning as Abrams concedes that she “destroys everything.”
On a similar note, the album discusses mental illness at length, with particular emphasis on how anxiety has impacted Abrams’ relationships. In “I Know It Won’t Work,” the singer admits that her worries close her off to others, and as a result she feels that she’s “not worth the time and breath” she knows that her friends and family are saving. The track blends Abrams’ self-deprecation with her anxieties as she encourages the people to abandon her for their own well-being. “Difficult” functions as a conversation between Abrams and her therapist, during which she confesses to being unfaithful in a previous relationship and drinking to mitigate her anxieties. The song’s repetitive chorus adds to the track’s distressed motif, signifying the spiral of worry that the singer experiences.
The album also discusses the struggles that accompany toxic relationships, which Abrams references through most of the tracks. In “Fault Line,” the ambient, mellow background music complements the track’s somber melody, as the lyrics lament the realization that Abrams is in a relationship headed towards mutually assured destruction. She explains that while her partner is causing their relationship to deteriorate, she too is playing a role in their downfall. Yet the track does not conclude with an acceptance that the two will have to part ways, indicating that the singer remains stuck in a cycle of mutual harm. “I Should Hate You Now” draws on similar themes, though Abrams is less willing to acknowledge her own mistakes in the track. Like “Fault Line,” the album’s fifth song deals with the complexity of loving someone who is harming her. Despite recognizing that the person that Abrams is dating is causing her harm, she is unable to walk away from them, and that agonizing realization makes it the saddest song on the record.
Though the album is lyrically stunning, Abrams falls into an unfortunate pattern of ending her tracks on a repetitive note. In both “Amelie” and “Difficult,” Abrams uses the last 30 seconds of the tracks to repeat two lines, which detracts from the otherwise poignant and poetic verses. While in some songs, the repetition adds to a tone of confusion, when done consistently through the album, it becomes an unwelcome crutch for the singer to lean on.
As a whole, “Good Riddance” is a lyrical masterpiece, featuring heartbreaking soliloquies in which Abrams recounts her own mistakes. The album is a haunting depiction of grief and guilt, a grungy blend of indie-pop and folk music and marks the start of Abrams’ promising career as an up-and-coming star.