Throughout the tumultuous events of 2020, rising alt-rock darling Maggie Lindemann spent the year releasing music singles in preparation for the debut of her first EP, “PARANOIA,” which came out on Jan. 22, 2021. Lindemann’s first work falls prey to some musical cliches, but overall, “PARANOIA” expresses a straightforward sense of honesty that perfectly fulfills Gen Z’s demand for authenticity in music.
The first song on the EP, “Knife Under My Pillow,” demonstrates the aptness of the album’s title, as the lyrics depict someone hunkered down in bed, in the grip of an overwhelming fear. The instrumentals echo this stark picture with a loud and unrelenting drum beat accompanied by an electric guitar.
On “Gaslight,” Lindemann teams up with experimental artist Caroline Miner Smith, who fans may recognize from Machine Gun Kelly’s track “I Think I’m OKAY.” Smith takes over the song’s chorus, adding a classic “screamo” element to the campy track that contrasts the dark, dragging bass line.
Meanwhile, “Scissorhands” draws upon Johnny Depp’s performance as Edward Scissorhands in the cult film of the same name as Lindemann shrinks from the future with the certainty that she will hurt the one she loves. The track oscillates between aggressive guitar riffs and a drum-synth duet, lending an uncertain tone to the piece.
Lindemann has a gift for the kind of nu-metal perfected by artists such as Rina Sawayama, clearly demonstrated throughout her album, but “Love Songs” sees her completely switching gears to perform a heartfelt acoustic number dedicated to her significant other. Abandoning her sarcasm, Lindemann lets down her guard and asks her lover to do the same, swearing her dedication to them over simple yet poignant guitar strums.
Perhaps the boldest songs on Lindemann’s record are “Loner” and “Different.” Both songs deal with the sense of displacement often felt by young people and neither one shies away from internal darkness. On “Loner,” Lindemann declares that she likes “a dark room with nobody but pain” while “Different” shows the singer trying to disappear by consuming drugs and alcohol in order to avoid self-inflicted guilt.
After her hit song “Pretty Girl” came out in 2016, Lindemann was hailed as a newfound virtuoso in the world of pop. However, the unrelenting self-awareness found in “PARANOIA” — hinted at in the singles leading up to its release — is a blunter form of communication, more reminiscent of rock and metal genres. The instrumentals back up this inference, placing Lindemann firmly in the realm of alternative music.
Lindemann’s music may be different than expected, but despite a few moments of banality, her genuineness is refreshing. Disdaining societal directives on how to behave, or how to talk about taboo subjects like mental health, Lindermann offers her listeners empathy and a shoulder to cry on by unashamedly acknowledging her own struggles.