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Released: 28th July 2017.

Julia Michaels - Nervous SystemThe mastermind behind much of Selena Gomez's 'Revival' and Britney Spears's 'Glory,' and having written with, or for, a cohort of A-list stars including Ed Sheeran, Shakira, Justin Bieber and Fifth Harmony, Julia Michaels has arguably established herself as not only a key architect in pop music's 2017 soundscape, but also as one of LA's most in-demand songwriters.

Michaels's aptly-titled debut release 'Nervous System' sees the songwriter try to take the leap into the limelight and become a full-fledged star in her own right. Retreading familiar territory and echoing the gentle mid-tempos of Gomez's 'Revival,' Michaels manages to - just about - set herself apart through her honest lyricism of toxic love and its intensity - "It's almost like I've gotten so used to resentment that every annoying little thing you say has lost its effect," Michaels laments in the mini-album's clear highlight "Worst in Me".

The album shines in its moments of quirkiness and experimentation - notably through Michaels's voice, from her whispering of the chorus of the bizarre "Pink", to her moans in the catchy "Uh Huh".

Unfortunately, 'Nervous System' can feel generic at times, such as in the pleasant-but-ultimately-unremarkable piano ballad "Don't Wanna Think," and in "Issues" - Michaels's breakthrough hit - which sounds a little too much like a reject from Gomez's 'Revival'. Likewise, tracks such as "Just Do It" err into the territory of filler - and the release comprises of only seven tracks in total.

'Nervous System' makes for a pleasant, easy listen with its delicate production and clever vocal layering, which showcase Michaels's unique voice and unusual lyrics. Michaels's talent and potential to become a major star in her own right is readily apparent, but Michaels's success as a songwriter is ultimately the mini-album's failure: having crafted the sound for pop today, Michaels's own effort has ended up sounding much like everything else in 2017, and, although nearly managing it, ultimately fails to stand out.

* * * (thankfulforkelly)

This release is available for download only.

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