Navigating the turbulent journey of young adulthood
a_shes, the Malaysian-Bornean artist currently based in the UK, makes a splash in the indie scene with his debut album, young adult fiction. Amidst the conformity that pervades the alternative pop musical realm, a_shes distinguishes himself with a ten-track odyssey delving into the synthy, confessional melodies of early adulthood.
The album serves as a belated coming-of-age tragedy, offering a raw and unfiltered portrayal of the anxieties that accompany growing up. According to a_shes, it delves into the stark realization that the real world rarely aligns with the cinematic perfection often portrayed on screen. Drawing inspiration from lowercase stylings, punchy beats, and smooth vocals, the album evokes a sense of nostalgia reminiscent of contemporaries like Lorde, Troye Sivan, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Rina Samawaya.
Based between London and Cambridge, a_shes transports listeners back to the early 2010s, reviving the indie scene that once thrived on Tumblr. The album’s sound is not only instantly recognizable but also deeply nostalgic, creating a sonic bridge to the past.
a_shes’ ability to confront the turbulence of young adulthood is evident throughout the album. The opening track, autumn city, sets the stage with sparkling keyboard-led melodies, painting a vivid picture of embarking on a new life journey. party politics follows, serving as the perfect soundtrack to a night out with its upbeat energy and infectious choruses that beckon listeners to the neon dance floor.
However, it’s the standout track, movies & music, that encapsulates the essence of a_shes’ introspection. Inspired by the poignant loss of adolescence during the COVID-19 pandemic, the track pays homage to influential works like Lorde’s Pure Heroine and Troye Sivan’s Blue Neighbourhood. Collaborating with London-based Palestinian artist Imad Salhi, a_shes weaves a haunting ode to the past, lamenting, “My age is going up in fumes.”
The melancholic ballad jet streams explores themes of confusion and loss, delving into the challenges of navigating the big city and confronting adult loneliness in the absence of familiar structures like school.
young adult fiction is a testament to a_shes’ artistic evolution, written over two years and originating on an old MacBook’s Garageband. The album blossomed into a professionally recorded and produced masterpiece, echoing calls to the past while resonating with hope amid reminiscence.
The closing track, glory days, serves as an anthem for those grappling with the transition from childhood innocence to the complexities of adulthood. Described as a breakup song mourning the loss of innocence, it encapsulates the fear of leaving behind the past for an uncertain future.
a_shes’ fusion of introspection and thematic sounds not only elevates young adult fiction to a triumph in sonic accessibility but also crafts an exceptionally relatable body of work, imprinting an enduring impact on the hearts of listeners navigating the turbulent journey of young adulthood.