Bubblegum pop and gazed-out alt rock may be a weird combination, but it’s a perfect fit for the coming-of-age themed sophomore effort Pastel from FRITZ. Newcastle’s Tilly Murphy released her self-titled lofi debut at just the tender age of 17 in 2017. This new record catalogues the ups and downs of that three year period leading up to adulthood. And you sure as hell can expect a wild mix of emotions and experiences in this record, with nostalgia being one of Murphy’s driving forces for her sound. FRITZ delivers a personal, playful, honest and fuzz-soaked adventure of pain and growth in this 9-track, one that expands her musicality to greater heights.  

Examples of these hard hitting tracks include “Arrow” which opens with “arrow through my chest / I got depressed / from all the games you put me through”. It then hooks around the regretful chorus: “I thought you knew me” over grinding riffs. Murphy makes use of fuzzy textures and drenched out guitars as a way to express nostalgia, this blends well with her effortlessly heartfelt vocals that glide on top of the mix, where each song feels like a diary entry. Next comes title track “Pastel”, which dives to a dream-pop world with playful melodies that captures the head-over-heels feeling of being in love.

At the center of the album is what I call the ‘punky’ trio of Pastel, starting with “She’s Gonna Hate Me” – a romp of urgent guitars and drums painted over a teen-drama story. “Gracie Forgive Me” is more in line with jangle pop, but Murphy’s vocal delivery has such a vibrant cadence to it that it meshes well with the edgy instruments. “Ghost Poke” is a mixed bag of emotional beats packed into one fervent 3-minute recollection, almost like a greatest hits of emotional scars lined up in a teenage nightmare.

The energy turns down slightly in “Die Happily”, a song with a morbid facade but at its core is about spending time with someone you really care about. “U Keep Me Alive” completely does away with its predecessor’s darkness for a bright love song with jangly chords and a vocal sheen auto-tuned with experimental flourish. 

The album ends with a glimmery and reverb-drenched “Jan 1”, an anxious song about the overwhelming pressures of improving yourself every new year. “I don’t wanna be a quitter / I know I’m not the best.” To the end FRITZ is transparent with how she feels, making Pastel such a riveting sophomore effort. Hopefully something that draws more eyes to this fresh indie gem.