Next Wave #1159: Elba Rose

Brighton based synth pop illuminating personal experiences...

Brighton’s latest export alt-pop singer-songwriter Elba Rose is reviving the moody synths and neon lights previously abandoned by the likes of Lorde and Tove Lo. She seeks to satisfy a yearning amongst nostalgic post-adolescents for an alt-pop artist continuing the use of dingy electro-beats amongst catchy snare drum, a sound provoking the nostalgia of our teenage years backed by songwriting tackling more contemporary topics corresponding to adult-life. The songwriter’s recent EP ‘Magdalene’ pays homage to these potent contemporary themes, from grappling with mental health to giving air-time to the harsh complexities of romantic relationships, the title being a reference to Elba Rose’s own middle name, immediately manifesting a sense of personal specificity within the body of work.

‘Magdalene’ certainly seems to sign-post as sudden artistic assurance of Elba Rose’s establishing a specific signature sound, “it was me and my producer kind of being like… this is our second EP, we are here and we know what we wanna do now” she reveals to CLASH. 

The alt-pop starlet went on to cite Lorde as a “huge influence on the production” of ‘Magdalene’ as well as the reigning queen of alternative music Lana Del Rey. “I also grew up with my dad singing Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin round the house so I took those crooner melodies too and you can kinda hear them on tracks like ‘Live Wire’ and ‘No Note, No Telephone’”. 

‘Live Wire’ stands as Rose’s most popular track, with a helping hand from the magic of Tik-Tok. The song seemingly states itself as a piano ballad early on before blending bouncy snare-drums and funky synths lending a playful groove to the lyrics which personify mental health and contemplate its effects. A vague, relatable anecdote made infectious by it’s quirky soundtrack… ‘Live Wire’ sums up what Elba Rose’s songs do best. Rose even goes on to to state ‘Live Wire’ is “probably” her “favourite track on the EP”. “It’s a super fun track to play live and it’s quite a liberating track because I wrote it addressed to my mental health in the post-funk of winter, it definitely gave me an outlet for that and this EP is the first time I’ve wrote comfortably about my mental health.”

Being Brighton-based, Elba Rose sits in the company of a humble indie-scene housing bands like The Kooks and The Magic Gang, which like most indie-scenes also happens to be very male-dominated. “There’s not a big scene of pop music here and I often feel more comfortable doing shows in London because of that… it would be cool to see more alt-pop musicians breakthrough here”.

It’s about time artists of alt-pop reviving the nostalgic, angsty teenage dream succeed in doing so and Elba Rose delivers the synth sound we’ve known and loved reworked with all the unique lyrical quirks of post-lockdown, early-20’s relatability. 

Elba Rose evokes the familiarity of your teenage angst but with the added complications of responsibility and less romanticised run-ins with accountability.

Words: Elba Rose

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