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Griff – ‘Vertigo’ review: scaling mountainous fear

July 10th, 2024

Since winning the BRITs Rising Star Award in 2021, Griff’s dizzying ascent has both bolted and buoyed. The triple-threat singer, songwriter, and producer (real name Sarah Griffiths) has only just embarked on her first headline tour of Europe, but has supported heavy hitters – most recently Taylor Swift on her record-breaking ‘Eras’ tour. Meanwhile, her hit single ‘Black Hole’, taken from her debut mixtape ‘One Foot In Front of the Other’, propelled her Stateside onto Late Night with Seth Meyers, but it is only now, three years later, that Griff releases her debut album, ‘Vertigo’.

Documenting the real-life disorientation of her whirlwind rise and “the idea that the world is spinning faster than you can keep up with”, ‘Vertigo’ captures the highs and lows of a young woman discovering her potential on an international stage – all while navigating existential anxieties and trepidations of the heart. Written between rented Airbnbs (including Imogen Heap’s Hideaway in Romford), the 23-year-old talent finds pockets of hope in a stream of self-doubt.

First appearing on ‘vert1go vol. 1’ – the first of two EPs preceding the album – the pattering ‘Into The Walls’ recounts the self-defeating urge to disappear; later in the tracklist and as a counter to such solitary isolation, ‘Pillow In My Arms’ finds Griff seeking comfort in the absence of another. Her performance finds new dexterity in ‘Astronaut’. Over the stirring piano of guest star Chris Martin, Griff switches from breathy gasps to yearning cries, her tongue-in-cheek lyricism lightening even her most delicate moments: “You said that you needed space / Go on then astronaut.

Griff revels in the euphoria – even if it is bittersweet. The compelling bass of ‘Hiding Alone’ makes the pained process of healing a gleefully liberating affair, while latest single ‘Anything’ explores ’80s-tinged pop before emphasising self-worth with bombastic drums and bright synths, conjuring Haim and Sigrid along the way. Mura Masa’s production gives a fidgety restlessness to ‘Cycles’, which makes peace with the certainty of uncertainty, while ‘Miss Me Too’ finds jubilant momentum in running towards the version of yourself you believed lost.

Most poignant is ‘Everlasting’, which sees Griff – a Chinese-Jamaican daughter of first and second-generation immigrants – voice her fears that she’ll make the mistakes of her elders: “All their hopes and their dreams were before them / god, I wonder what came and destroyed them”. In this way and others, ‘Vertigo’ is a diaristic tale of scaling mountainous fear, traversing back to her naive youth spent making music in her bedroom – and welcoming a new chapter with newfound courage.

Details

  • Release date: July 12, 2024
  • Record label: Warner Music
This content was originally sourced and posted at NME »
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