UPSAHL’s ‘Young Life Crisis’ is a Time Machine to Pre-COVID Party Culture

It seems like there are two kinds of people in quarantine: those who miss social settings and those who are thankful to be missing out. Whichever side of the spectrum you’re on, UPSAHL’s brilliant sophomore effort, Young Life Crisis, will speak to your reasoning. The EP encapsulates the overwhelming, yet exhilarating, environment of a party with infectiously catchy melodies and instrumentals drawing from genres like rock and R&B. She described the project to Women In Pop, saying “2020 has sparked an existential crisis for all of us, so here’s mine. 21-years-old, trying to figure out what the fuck I’m doing, and raging through it all.” It originally came out in October, but UPSAHL re-released it with an extra track, “Arizona,” earlier this month. 

The project opens with its title track, inviting listeners right into the party setting with an almost alarmingly casual description of tumultuous young adulthood: “I’m crying up a river on the bathroom floor and a random bitch that I don’t know is banging on the door, so I walk out with my head high like I’m Jesus Christ.” She explained to Thomas Bleach, “it was actually the last song [of the original five-song tracklist] I wrote for the EP. I had the other four songs already picked out, and I just needed the opening track that would tie everything I was trying to say together. I knew I really wanted a song that was almost a stream of consciousness where I was just listing off all my issues.” It establishes a blunt, honest relationship between UPSAHL and the listener, making the rest of the extended play feel like a conversation between friends as you step into the world she’s created. 

“MoneyOnMyMind” speaks to the ambition so many young people have – UPSAHL told PopCrush, “I don’t mean money as a literal thing in the song; it’s all about the mindset.” Taken at face value, it’s reminiscent of songs like Ariana Grande’s “7 rings,” making it a perfect party banger that fits right into the project’s atmosphere. Meanwhile, strong guitar lends the song just the right amount of attitude, reminiscent of pop rocker Kelsy Karter’s music. It transports the listener into the world UPSAHL is describing, making the EP feel more dimensional and interactive.

“People I Don’t Like” touches on the artificial nature of the music industry, but it’s relatable to all kinds of social situations where people feel fake. UPSAHL opened up to American Songwriter, “I wrote [the song] during Grammy week in LA this year, which is every January. Everybody in music just goes to a bunch of different music industry parties everyday. It was my first time really, properly doing it and going to these events and I started to realize, by Wednesday, I’m reintroducing myself to the same people everyday! We all know we’ve already introduced ourselves but we’re just doing it anyway. We’re exchanging numbers to never talk to each other again. It’s just the fakest thing.” The melody rarely wavers from the same progression of notes, imitating how repetitive the events she describes are.

UPSAHL questions her party habits while trying to keep her cool in front of a suitor on “Sad Sorry After Party.” It’s a universal commentary on feeling out of place among peers, with a poignant lyric being “he said, ‘let’s go to Malibu,’ but I just wanna cry into the swimming pool.” Like “People I Don’t Like,” the song has a stable, almost robotic, melody, emphasizing how the party lifestyle has become simply routine for UPSAHL rather than an exciting hobby. The instrumental is ironically energetic, illustrating the juxtaposition between the flamboyant social atmosphere and her hidden misery.

A reflection on how we mask our feelings to save face with others, “Fake Bitch” returns to the ideas of People I Don’t Like, but through a more self-critical lens. UPSAHL explained to Thomas Bleach, “I wrote ‘Fake Bitch’ at the start of what I now realise was my ‘young life crisis.’ It was about a time pre-COVID where I had a meltdown at a bar and lost my mind. Then the rest of the EP was the journey following on from that.” It’s the solemn original closing track to the project, and as the only acoustic song on the tracklist, it allows UPSAHL’s fluttery vocals and the emotions she has tucked away to take center stage. The track closes with the sound of a train gliding by, suggesting that UPSAHL left the party life behind and may have left Los Angeles entirely.

Newly-added track “Arizona” picks the pace back up, offering an ode to individuality that feels like a realization and change in direction. “Not gonna take it in the backseat anymore,” UPSAHL proclaims before insisting “this is who I am.” It feels noticeably lighter than the first four tracks of the EP, reflecting UPSAHL’s new self-confidence and refusal to conform to what her peers are doing simply because it’s expected.

You can listen to Young Life Crisis on all major streaming platforms.

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Madison Murray View All →

Hi! I’m Madison Murray, a pop culture and music writer who also loves writing about lifestyle and fashion. I have credits on sites like TREMG, The Honey POP, Genius, Young Hollywood, and Audible Addixion, as well as my own Melodic Musings blog. Find me on socials @madisonmwrites!

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