It has been three long years since Alessia Cara released the introvert theme song “Here.”
In the meantime, Cara has been growing up personally and musically, and that process is reflective in her album “The Pains of Growing,” released Nov. 30. Along with more mature lyrics, Cara’s silky-smooth voice has developed a more mature tone as she sings about heavier topics than in her past albums.
The title track “Growing Pains” encompasses the overall theme of the album with lyrics referencing having to grow up quickly in the spotlight. Although the music underneath the vocals keeps the listener entertained with beat additions and changes in the tempo, the main focus is on the emotional voice Cara carries through the song.
The vocal performance continues in “Not Today” with simple vocals and lyrics that strip the song down to be more impactful. The deep beat and almost happy undertones in the chorus bring stark contrast to the lyric's more depressive tone.
As a break from these two heavy songs, listeners are taken to the upbeat “Trust My Lonely.” The lyrics are dissing the guy who left Cara, but now she’s doing better without him and happy on her own.
Throughout the album, there doesn’t seem to be a solid storyline, but instead it acts more as a collection of short stories, some specific like “Wherever I Live,” which describes the thoughts in her head as she comes back to a foreign hotel room. “My Kind” also exemplifies this with its retellings of Cara’s childhood stories, reconnecting it to the overall theme of the album.
A signature element of Cara’s music is the construction of her songs on a lyrical foundation. That shines through in all the songs on the album but particularly on “7 Days” and “Nintendo Game.” In “7 Days,” the steady and simple beat is prime for some head bobbing and foot tapping.
“Nintendo Game” has a more aggressive vibe that comes across as gamer trash-talk in the references to old-school games. The piano notes under a clapping beat give the song a groove that fits with the attitude of a romantic battle that the song describes.
To round out the theme of maturing into adulthood, “All We Know” goes through the illusion of childhood that has been revealed as just fantasy. The electric guitar chords that introduce the song before going into the background bring out the innate disappointment that the lyrics portray.
In this album, Cara shows growth in more than just her number of track titles. Although her voice hasn’t changed, the subjects of her songs and lyrics have matured, making this sophomore album more advanced than other artists in comparison. The theme of the album carries throughout and reflects on the experience of growing up.