EP Review: Sage Charmaine serves punchy pop on debut EP “don’t leave me“
A present-day pop princess, Sage Charmaine is like a Lisa Frank character come to life. Behind the pink hair, sparkles, and sassy smile, however, there’s an artist refining her real life experiences to create polished pop tunes that are sure to hook listeners. Her debut EP, don’t leave me, brings attitude and honesty, dipping into the boundaries of various genres (like indie rock and hip hop), while still maintaining an overarching pop sound. Highlights include “Ashes”, Charmaine’s melancholic, raspy take on a push-and-pull relationship. You can hear the disappointment in her voice through lyrics like “Loving you's a chore / But I do it all over again / Do the same shit again”, but they’re delivered while still being incredibly cool. Sounding far more mature than her 16 years, Charmaine locks into the art of making less than desirable emotions into tracks we all want to vibe to. “happy birthday” is similarly cynical yet catchy, with an airy beginning twisting into a vengeful breakup song 2007 Aly and AJ would be proud of. “around” pairs silky vocals with a bass beat, making for an effortlessly powerful track that lets everyone know that even though she’s young and new on the scene, Charmaine knows she’s got it, and she won’t let anybody tell her differently. In contrast, her first single off this cycle, “Look Up 2 Me”, radiates a different type of assertiveness, the Cool Girl Aura. This is where the rising pop star’s age starts to peek through. Like high school’s queen bee, she knows all eyes are on her, and she knows how to draw a clear line. Charmaine sings about wanting to be a muse, a model, an icon, but she doesn’t define herself by other’s praise. “don’t bother me” illustrates this with a grounded back-off track. While the eye-roll is almost audible through “Lose my number and forget my name / Since you always want to leave”, Charmaine makes it clear that she has no time for drama, she’s got bigger and better things to worry about. Matching her clear-cut confidence with her heartbreak, “hurts a little less” is a deceivingly upbeat tune and an absolute winner off this EP. Few things scream “pop hit in the making” more than sad lyrics and a punchy beat. This song was made to be danced to at the club with your girlfriends, or played over the Forever 21 speakers as you pick out a hot post-breakup outfit off the new arrival racks. Lastly, the title track “don’t leave me”, ties everything back up, encompassing this EP’s theme well. Full of wishfulness and wanderlust, it tries to stay cool while expressing the desperate feeling of longing to stay with someone you love. Wanting to not be left behind, Charmaine is simply left painting a picturesque vacation scene over the backdrop of loneliness. Using age to her advantage, Sage Charmaine is a Gen Z powerhouse. Her music reminds listeners what it was like to be on the edge of seventeen, but with a twist. The experiences are fresh and grown up, cool and collected. “don’t leave me” puts teen dreams back in style through a different lens; in a strong way. There’s nothing wrong with a little heartbreak and a little pop confidence. Putting the power back in plastic, Sage Charmaine reminds listeners that that nothing can take you down when you look and feel this good.