A surreal sliver of avant-garde Americana awaits.
A surreal sliver of avant-garde Americana awaits.
Allie X, the ever-evolving enigmatic fashion icon, has just released her latest studio album, Cape God. In this new era, fans are given a more intimate glimpse into the deep - and sometimes dark - recesses of the Canadian singer's soul. She's left behind the sun-soaked irreverence of her last album, Super Sunset, with its layered vocals and synth beats, and embarked on a new, dreamlike journey of self-reflection and healing.
On Cape God, Allie X has created a liminal space, neither fantasy nor reality, not past nor present, in which she meditates on the endlessly complicated and inherently human ideas of identity and belonging, as she sees them through the experiences of her teenage self. She explores the angst, the anxiety, the loneliness, the longing, and the alienation all with nuanced, melancholic lyrical themes and a more minimalistic sound than we've heard from her before.
The album covers topics including the longing for the simplicity of childhood, confronting inner demons, being the butt the joke, popularity, drug use, intense love between friends, and strained familial relationships. To aid her in this, Allie has enlisted the help of Mitski and long-time collaborator Troye Sivan.
"This is the most vulnerable work I've done. It’s definitely the most personal and it’s the most unveiled," she said. "It's the record that you can listen to and you can understand my history and who I am and my experiences more so than anything I've done before."
Though the themes of Cape Cod are tied to the experiences of Allie's younger years, it took her until recently to find a way to express them. Finally finding those words has been a therapeutic process for her, to say the least.
"I've been holding this stuff for so long. I wasn't writing songs when I was going through this stuff so I didn't have an outlet at that time. Anyone that has trauma it just sort of sits in you until you find a way to let it out," she said. "And what I've found is that I have a real sense of sympathy for my younger self, for that girl. It's like telling her, 'You don't need to be scared anymore. You don't need to be ashamed anymore. It's going to be ok."
At this point in her career, in this most recent iteration, Allie X is in a place where she's no longer interested in what Los Angeles might want from her. She's given up on competing with the other pop girls for what might be considered a radio hit. She's no longer ashamed of her journey, what she looks like, or who she is.
That's the message that Allie hopes listeners take away from their time with Cape God. "This is an album for outsiders - I think everyone is an outsider in one way or another - but specifically for the kids who are going through what I went through, which is just really struggling to find their place and not thinking that they necessarily have a future," she said.
Despite the years it took for Allie to put the feelings of her younger self into song, once the process started, it all just kind of came pouring out. This most recent album actually began to take shape before any singles from the previous one had been released. Allie found herself on a writing trip to Stockholm with producer Oscar Görres and co-writer James Alan Ghaleb in March 2018. While there, she pulled out her phone and sang them a lyric she'd written in her notes app while sick in the tub some months before. While she had laid there sick, she found herself craving something clean and crisp - a fresh white towel. "I want to be near fresh laundry," she wrote. She half expected them to blow her off, as some producers are wont to do. The song was completed later that day.
Over the next two days, the trio would write and compose other two songs, Regulars and Rings A Bell. The rest of the album would be finished in a matter of weeks, over a handful of short trips to Stockholm and a few writing sessions L.A., but it was by the time she flew back to California, three days after her first arrival in Sweden, that Allie knew she had not only the makings of her next album but also an evolutionary new sound and aesthetic concept ideas swirling in her head. The next phase of her evolution had begun.
"The 'X' in Allie X has always stood for the 'X' in algebra - the unknown variable. By nature, this project has always been about evolution," she said. "I’ve never felt the need to stick to say one sound or one type of visual. It’s about exploring my identity and figuring out who I am and documenting that with the music and the art."
Allie functions as her own creative director and has a very specific vision of what she wants. Armed with the new sound of Cape God, she set out to put together a team that could help her build her fantasy world, one with decidedly gothic undertones with a schoolgirl infusion. Where the visual aesthetic of Super Sunset was all about glossy, monochromatic glam, Allie knew she'd need to enlist a photographer who shared her vision for the sweeping scenic yet slightly derelict aesthetic and earthier palette of Cape God. She found her perfect partner in Brendon Burton, a visual artist with a distinct interest in vacant and decaying places.
Then, there is, of course, the fashion. For Cape God, Allie has been working a new stylist, Kieley Kimmel. "She's a great balance for me," said Allie, "especially with the last year what I did when I really went in a maximalist direction, Kieley is very into minimalist and subtleties." Designers Allie has worn include Viktor & Rolf, Oliver Theyskens, Dior, Margiela, Lanvin, and Iris Van Herpen. She's also recently been extremely drawn to the designs of Cecilie Bahnsen, whose collection fits perfectly with Allie's vision for the Cape God tour.
Speaking of tour, Allie heads out headlining her own tour next month starting on the West Coast. Given the more stripped-down sound of this album, fans can expect a full band on stage with Allie go around, which she says she's really enjoying.
She had the opportunity to introduce audiences to the touring world of Cape God as she opened for both Charli XCX and MARINA recently, which builds on her already established aesthetic - lights, fog, wind. "I have these long, long extensions, so it's like I'm in a wind storm the whole time," she said. Her fashion for the tour also leads her away from heels and more towards oxfords and Mary Jane's. "So, just the way I move on stage is much freer," she said. "I fully embrace my awkward dancing."
You can stream all of Cape God here and check out the V exclusive shots of Allie X in the slideshow below.