After releasing five EPs, on Friday (August 31) singer-songwriter Emma Blackery delighted fans by finally releasing her debut album Villains.
Produced by Toby Scott (Little Mix, Girls Aloud, The Saturdays), the highly anticipated 11-track offering includes ‘Dirt’, ‘Agenda’, ‘Icarus’, and ‘Take Me Out’. Inspired by a period of reflection following personal events which occurred last summer, Villains takes us on a journey through Emma’s various emotions including anger, paranoia and reflection.
The album opens with the hypnotic ‘Villains Pt.1’, where Emma declares “I am a maverick, built to create, designed to destroy”. The tension builds during the powerful and rocky chorus, as Emma calls out the people, the “villains”, who caused her so much pain at a certain point in her life. With the outro echoing “Welcome to the show”, it’s clear to hear that we’re in for an interesting journey.
‘Dirt’ offers a brighter, sassier dig at those who have done Emma wrong. Released as a single earlier this year, we’re still obsessed with the popular Internet references to sipping tea, throwing shade and keeping receipts. Whilst the track serves plenty of pettiness, it marks the beginning of Emma’s journey and is an important addition on the album. ‘Dirt’ is also one of the best bops on the album, and we love how it has allowed Emma to gain a new perspective on life.
Continuing the sassy tone, ‘Agenda’ is an anthem of self-confidence which encourages you to embrace your individuality. The track sees Emma question if she’s good enough for another person (“Don’t you like my colours?”), before acknowledging that she is confident within herself and if they don’t like her for who she is then she’s better off not being a part of their agenda. The moral of the tale here is to never let anyone dull your sparkle, and we couldn’t love Emma more for it.
‘Fake Friends’ is another bright offering production wise, which shows Emma calling out someone’s true colours. Whilst she agrees to be fake friends as she’s not completely innocent herself (“I know the story that no-one’s seen, but I’m not innocent so let’s not come clean”), Emma makes it clear that she is wise to the real nature behind someone’s fake persona.
Slowing things down a little, ‘Icarus’ is a gentle ballad which allows Emma to showcase her ethereal vocals. Previously released as an instant grat track, ‘Icarus’ sees Emma taking the high road rather than retaliating against her peers.
‘Take Me Out’ deals with paranoia, with Emma questioning who will be the next person to leave her or hurt her. It’s clear to see that the singer-songwriter has been truly hurt by so called friends in the past, which has left her feeling like she cannot put her guard down around anyone. As someone in the public eye, it also makes it more difficult for Emma to judge someone’s true intentions. Despite the sombre nature of the song, ‘Take Me Out’ has an upbeat melody and an infectious sing-along chorus which makes it one of the standout tracks on Villains.
Beginning as a stripped-back guitar track, ‘Petty’ sees Emma address her break up with her first love. As the infectious chorus kicks in, so does a vibrant electro melody which lifts the track. It’s also one of the many tracks on the album filled with a clever and quirky writing style.
“Cause you used to call me pretty ’til you took out the ‘R’
Said “girl you couldn’t be more petty than you already are”,
Are you mad ’cause I wrote songs about you breaking my heart?
Cause boy you used to call me pretty ’til you took out the ‘R’
Armed with a darker electro vibe, ‘Third Eye’ is a mesh of 80’s synth-pop influences and showcases Emma’s voice at its strongest. Lyrically, the song is also one of most impressive, with Emma telling the story of how both her and her enemy are fighting a losing battle. “And tell me how can you break my trust if you never had it? But you’ll do what you must, becoming a habit and on and on repeating, so what do you want from me?”, Emma sings during the angsty chorus. Emma has declared ‘Third Eye’ as her favourite track from the album and it’s definitely one of ours too.
‘What I Felt With You’ takes the form of a ballad where Emma describes a relationship which has ended because the two people have simply grown apart from each other. “There used to be a time when you were my only thought but, I used to call to call you mine, now I don’t think of you at all”, Emma sings as she showcases her breathy vocals.
The album’s penultimate song is ‘Burn The Witch’, and according to Emma it acts as the sister track to ‘Dirt’. The track is the final time that Emma lets out her negativity surrounding the situation, as she prepares to close the chapter, break all ties and move on emotionally. “Roses are red, violets are blue, Lady Karma’s a b*tch and she’s coming for you”, Emma sings over a mid-tempo electro beat as she breaks free and allows karma to do her thing.
The album comes to a close with ‘Villains Pt. 2’, Emma’s most personal song yet. Echoing the dark tone of part one, ‘Villains Pt. 2’ sees the singer-songwriter reflect on the situations which have affected her greatly, before reflecting on her own behaviour throughout. As seen on songs such as ‘Fake Friends’, she is not afraid to acknowledge her own faults but during the final track she blames her problems on her own self-sabotage. “I’m my own biggest villain” she powerfully exclaims. The track builds to an incredible crescendo, with Emma throwing every inch of emotion into the outro.
Villains is a strong debut album from Emma Blackery, which deals with losing friends and losing trust. Whilst there is plenty of sass served throughout the album, Emma also shows how a series of events left her feeling paranoid and unsure of herself, highlighting her vulnerability. The album channels an electro-pop vibe which marks a shift in Emma’s sound, showcasing her maturity and growth as an artist. Armed with clever lyricism and emotion filled vocals, Villains is a cohesive offering with each track perfectly placed to tell a chapter of Emma’s story.
Take a listen to Villains below.