When a then-19-year-old Alessia Cara was touring with Coldplay during their 2016 tour, I was shocked by her poise. She had just skyrocketed to fame with her debut single, “Here,” and was on tour with a world-renowned act; yet she held her own. She talked to the audience about her very-relatable struggles as a teenage girl with her friends, body image, and just trying to fit in. Her performance was so striking that I listened to her full album, Know-It-All, which was much the same as her performance: wonderfully age appropriate, earnest, and filled with talent.
Cara, on Know-It-All, had a winning formula because her songs were catchy yet unexpected; her phrasing, in general, is longer than most pop songs, which kept her album easy to sing to, but slightly more interesting than normal.
“Growing Pains” follows this style, but, sadly, fails to hold up. This track tips too far to the side of long phrasing, rather than catchy. The just-over-three-minute track slogs towards feeling more like over-five-minutes; Cara has vocal range, but this track is more of an almost-rap than a vocal melody. The chorus is better, but the verses don’t quite hit the rhythm that makes rap catchy or the notes that make a pop melody.
Cara does get props for her creativity, though. There’s no melodic instrumentation in the entire track; it centers around drums and synthesized beats. This is an exceedingly cool concept, but, paired with the blasé vocal melody, this doesn’t quite land. As a deep-cut on her next album, “Growing Pains,” would probably be a cult favorite, but it’s just not single material.