Melanie Martinez's debut full length effort, Cry Baby, is the gift that keeps on giving. First off, it is a concept album: we are introduced to Cry Baby, its titular character, from track one, and continue to follow her journey of self-discovery throughout the 13 tracks (16 if you're lucky and pick up the deluxe version).
But Cry Baby's tale isn't just one of love: it's a story about facing trouble ("Tag you’re it”), finding redemption ("Milk and Cookies”) and absolutely questioning society's expectations ("Mrs. Potato Head”). Don't be fooled by its innocent packaging and the familiar sounds of nursery rhymes: the content of this album is dark and deep. Lyrically, Martinez gives us thoughtful alliterations and reimagines fairy tales, exposing them so as to show their seedy underbelly, as well as providing us with a critique of what it means to be just a girl in a world. There are no holes in Melanie's lyricism.
Musically, the album sounds like your childhood distorted. Martinez puts a fun mirror to it all. From the twinkling sound of music boxes to slightly off-kilter crane toys, to the surprise of a bubbly tune turned dubstep drop, the album does musically what it initially sought out to do conceptually—an incredible feat which makes it a complete and well crafted piece of work. By the final track, Cry Baby's innocence and purity is completely turned on its head and she’s gone wild, but that's all fine and well. As Melanie in Wonderland teaches us, “all the best people are crazy."