A “Fluss” of Emotions
German singer LEA’s recent album “Fluss” falls short in the pop music world.
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Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. A relationship is born. For an extended period of time, they live in fantasy land, but eventually part ways after a bitter breakup. For most of the songs on German pop star LEA’s new album, this is the story being told—again and again and again.
Lea-Marie Becker, known by her stage name LEA, entered the music world in 2016 with her unique brand of powerful acoustic ballads and melodic emo-pop. Her newest album “Fluss” is a continuation of this mellow musical style, characterized by its soft pianos, guitars, and light, bouncy production. With 14 songs and five bonus acoustic tracks, “Fluss” explores the ups and downs of being in a relationship, the consequences of a messy breakup, and the pain of rejection.
Her lyrics center around heartbreak, romance, and all of the emotions that ensue—it feels as though LEA doesn’t have any other tricks up her sleeve. Listening to the album, one can’t help but wonder if she is singing about one love or several since all the songs mirror each other, each indistinguishable from the next. The first few tracks are bearable, but as soon as she starts singing about how her lovers’ “kisses are like poison,” and how she’d “go through any storm” for them, the message becomes a drag. In addition to the tiresome complaints about love, the writing is elementary and lacks nuance. LEA digs up every hackneyed phrase used by songwriters in the history of pop music and sets it to a simple 4/4 rhythm. Perhaps with more imagery, the lyrics could make a bigger impact on the listener, but even when specific details appear, they are unsophisticated and don’t add much to the story.
Amateur lyrics aside, the melodies are bland and monotonous. The instrumentals, which aren’t helped by LEA’s predictable cadences and unremarkable harmonies, generally mirror those of any other run-of-the-mill pop song. The production of this album brings nothing new to the table, simply regurgitating what thousands of other musical artists have already done. On tracks like “Fluss” (River), “Swimmingpool” (Swimming Pool), and “Sag nicht sorry” (Don’t Say Sorry), the repetitive strums of the guitar and basic piano chords provide for a predictable and uninteresting listen.
The only meaningful song on the record is “Dicke Socken,” translated to “Thick Socks” in English. LEA sings about coming home from tour and reuniting with her parents who have bought a new pair of thick socks for her. The song opens with the line, “Always on the road, as if I’ll never arrive” and closes with the heartfelt hook, “When everything else breaks, your love remains.” LEA manages to take her specific, narrow experience of homesickness and make it relatable to listeners.
As a truly one-sided album, “Fluss” doesn’t inspire. LEA presents herself not as a versatile artist, but instead as a one-trick pony. She has a special voice, both light and rich, but her vocals are not enough to bring life to her melodies or her lyrics. She could do much more with sophisticated production and a more diverse range of content, but the elementary level of songwriting on this album doesn’t give her enough room to express herself as an artist. While she has great potential in the music world, her search for a more compelling subject matter continues.