- Words Yazzi Gokcemen
Emerging artist a_shes reflects on the trials and tribulations of young adulthood and 2010 pop in his debut album.
A Garage Band-crafted album from a self-proclaimed “Twenty-something teenage singer-songwriter” might not sound promising. Giving sceptics of his, albeit ironic, bio reason to reconsider, a_shes has stepped out with young adult fiction an enticing debut album full of synthy-pop hedonism.
Based between London and Cambridge and of Malayasian-Bornean heritage, a_shes is an emerging artist with much to say. His inaugural project consists of 10 tracks which chronicle the turbulent years of adolescence into early adulthood, as its creator puts it “a belated coming-of-age tragedy”. A sense of teenage angst weaves into lyrics and song titles as a_shes reflects on the eye-roll but all-too-relatable subject with thoughtful sensitivity. For a_shes, who grew up between London/Cambridge-based creative and many of his generation, teenhood was far from ‘cinema-perfect’ due to the pandemic.
He laments this loss in ‘movies & music’, a standout of the project, singing lyrics like “I’m eighteen until I’m twenty-nine” and “my age is going up in fumes”. Hypnotic synths produced by collaborator Imrad Salhi pulsate over acoustic guitar to create an atmosphere of wistful melancholy. 2010 nostalgia is a thread throughout the record as songs mood-switch from dance track to ballad. On a closer listen a_shes pop influences – Troye Sivan, Rina Sawayama, Lorde – can be picked up.
Two years in the making, blossoming from a laptop app to a professionally produced project, young adult fiction confidently launches its creator into pop music – even as he navigates this saturated space, and the early years of adulthood, a_shes is willingly experimental and open.