A musical tonic to the millennial malaise, Orla Gartland’s first full-length album is a poignant reflection on self-love in the digital age, writes Hailie Pentleton
Orla Gartland’s debut album Woman on the Internet is a study in coming of age, codependency, and the chaos that ensues as every twenty-something-year-old attempts to find their authentic self in a world dominated by internet culture and individuality complexes. Packed with bangers that dance across a spectrum of styles, the album begins with The Things That I’ve Learned, setting the tone for the self-reflective ensemble to follow. Aptly titled, the opening track offers a plethora of meaningful reminders. Most importantly, Gartland encourages us to “take up space even when you think you don’t deserve it”, a theme that recurs throughout.
The album has a very homely feel to it, filled to the brim with encouragement. The DIY production creates a sense of intimacy which is matched by Gartland’s lyrical insights into life, love, and learning to validate yourself. The energetic and youthful You’re Not Special, Babe yanks the listener back down to earth, promising that there isn’t a single person with the foggiest idea of how to navigate their twenties. No matter how put-together people might appear, “Everyone fucks up and then breaks up and then makes up / Everyone has days where they don’t wanna wake up”.
Gartland’s razor sharp lyrics, reminiscent of the likes of Phoebe Bridgers and Lorde, are simple but poignant, encouraging introspection with every phrase. She captures the all-too-familiar imposter syndrome that each of us is likely to have encountered at some point in our lives, which has only been intensified by internet culture. These themes are explored skilfully in Pretending and More Like You, where we first encounter the album’s motif, the omnipresent Woman on the Internet, a character that every twenty-something-year-old woman is familiar with. In Pretending she offers makeup advice, encouraging Gartland to step out of her comfort zone and tackle her feelings of inferiority. In More Like You, she is a self-care advocate, teaching Gartland how to cast her envy to the side in favour of authenticity.
Indie-rock experiments Zombie and Codependency, examine the messiness of adult relationships. Zombie is angry, exasperated even, as Gartland laments the lack of insight that men trapped by toxic masculinity seem to afford themselves. Codependency is contemplative, exploring the unhealthy patterns that relationships can fall into when people find themselves unable to self-validate. It asks the age old question: “Can you love someone else if you don’t love yourself?” The answer? Sure, but sometimes it gets really fucking messy.
Woman on the Internet is a thrilling and thoughtful album, and a truly impressive debut. As the home-audio that precedes Bloodlines/Difficult Things promises: here comes trouble.
Favourite Tracks: You’re Not Special, Babe, Codependency, Pretending, and Zombie.