Melanie Martinez Changes Up Her Style: “After School” Review

Melanie+Martinez+Changes+Up+Her+Style%3A+%22After+School%22+Review

Elijah Perez, Editor In Chief

Melanie Martinez released her highly anticipated EP “After School” last night. It is the biggest change up in her career thus far, and it pays off. 

Fans of Martinez have known the EP was coming for quite some time as it was announced shortly after the release of her album and accompanying film “K-12.” However, fans were not expecting its somewhat surprise release as it was only officially announced Thursday morning. 

The EP has a considerably different sound compared to Martinez’s past work on “Cry Baby” and K-12” both sonically and lyrically. 

Martinez’s music discography collectively tells the story of her alter ego character Cry Baby, “Cry Baby” detailing the characters origins as a child and “K-12” showcasing the character’s journey through school. 

Both albums are exaggerated versions of Martinez’s life molded into story based writing featuring metaphors for dark subjects ranging from eating disorders to the objectifying of women. 

So, the previous albums were conceptual and contained sounds reflecting child and school-like experiences. For “After School,” Martinez, for the most part, abandoned the Cry Baby alter ego and focused on herself. This decision to write from her perspective purely and create sounds she wanted to birthed an experimental and wonderfully cohesive body of work. 

“After School” tracklisting. 

The first obvious change listeners will notice is the departure of Martinez’s signature sound. While remnants of it still exist through whimsical chimes in the instrumentals, the sound of the EP is much more alternative and R&B based rather than her usually synthy dark pop. 

This is not only made apparent by the instrumentals, but also the singing style and flow Martinez takes on. From the first track Notebook, she opens up in a quick rhythm mirroring early 2000’s and current R&B styles, ranting about a past boyfriend who did not treat her properly. This style continues throughout the EP, most heavily noticeable in Numbers and Field Trip. 

The only track that more closely resembles her past work is The Bakery because of it’s quirky theme and writing as well as the title being reminiscent of previous songs Cake and Strawberry Shortcake. 

Martinez starring in The Bakery. 

The Bakery also received a music video release at the same time as the EP. The video has received positive feedback reaching the number one spot of Youtube’s trending page overnight. 

The music video really solidifies the new direction of Martinez’s career as, while it may contain childlike imagery with visuals of humanoid rabbits and pastel colors, it also features Martinez in revealing clothing dancing in an R&B style. 

Astrological imagery was also featured in the video which reflects the heavy usage of it in the EP, track Field Trip being the prime example. 

Martinez has dabbled into astrology beforehand in her self directed film “K-12,” but didn’t dive deeply in. “After School” dives head first into it with lyrics like “my rising sun is all they see, scorpio b**ch with a sharp a*s sting, I gotta Taurus sun, Moon Mercury” in Field Trip and “I’m mortal, defected by this form” in Test Me. 

Martinez referencing swords of astrological tarot artwork. 

The large focus on astrology brings forth another large change, yet accepted change in the music of Martinez. She as a person is very invested into astrology and claims herself as an empath. This said, Martinez speaks directly about herself from her perspective rather than through the lens of alter ego Cry Baby. 

It’s very jarring at first to hear Martinez speak about herself, but as the seven tracks go by you grow to accept it and find it happily refreshing. Previously, Martinez has spoken about herself in songs Show N Tell and Detention, both hashing out her frustrations as a celebrity, but the lyrics were fit to Cry Baby. 

In track Numbers, Martinez speaks on the same issue saying, “Am I just a number, cause it seems like that’s your goal?” but finally expressing it as herself fully unfiltered. 

The track also features beautiful notes in her voice and long runs not often seen in her music except for “K-12” track High School Sweethearts. It was, once again, a refreshing break to hear the range in Martinez’s voice versus the somewhat similar notes heard in her past two projects.

“After School” presents a different and edgier side of Martinez fans were not expecting, but have openly embraced. The EP is sonically cohesive and alluring to ears with its sadistic alternative influences and R&B flow. 

Lyrically it offers poetic writing that paints a picture while keeping an overall angsty tone, only elevated by the usage of Martinez’s vocal range displayed across the seven tracks. 

“After School” was not necessarily a risky move for Martinez, but certainly a big change up. It paid off delivering some of the best music in her discography. 

“After School” is available on all streaming platforms.

The Bakery music video is available here.