At the intersection of modern pop and dance exists a reality that is much more fun, a new melancholy much boppier, a world delightful—something like Best Ex's new record Good At Feeling Bad. The music of the new album displays behind various colorful sonic veils the remade face of dance-pop, not completely unrecognizable, just really done up, smiling brilliantly while tears stream down its eyes: Best Ex presents us with a record that encourages a different type of sad.
For Best Ex author Mariel Loveland Good At Feeling Bad is acceptance and recognition of a world that seems faster and less pleasing than ever before; a determination to view surroundings in a more soothing light is evident in each piano chord and layered hook. "Gap Tooth (On My Mind)," the record's dance-heavy opener, is a prime example of Loveland's gorgeous contrast of melancholic lyrics against a pounding club beat built up with classy piano sustains and lingering guitar riffs. "Gap Tooth (On My Mind)" is ultimately a grandiose breakout from a prison of fear.
The breakout sprint continues in "Lemons," whose rhythm is lightning fast, and its choruses sharp enough to pierce memory with hot precision. However, it is in the record's arguable top song that a pause of contemplation is taken, allowing for voyeuristic admiration: "Bad Love" is a long and refreshing breath of darkness, sensuality, and blood-drenched heartbreak—that which pop music needs most today. When the beat drops in "Bad Love," you can't help but feel, and that is music's not-so-secret desire.
"Feed The Sharks" walks on the familiar land of pop's current crop of artists, but it works in establishing Loveland as a player there in the mainstream, because who says her power-pop can't be mainstream. "Two Of Us" is a pseudo-romantic track, a dream forest lit by trickling piano notes, and Loveland's glowing voice. Somewhere between the sweetest dream and crudest reality exists this lovely ballad. The closing title track, with its explosive beat and rich bassline, is much more than a reawakening, it is a rebirth of an artist taking her pop brand from the underground to the above and into the roaring mainstream.
Walking, sprinting, dreaming, and walking again, Mariel Loveland shows us that Best Ex is a project forging a new path, presenting a better way to view the world of today. Good At Feeling Bad became a sort of healing tool for Loveland as she explains: "I'm not sure you ever get over the fear of happily waking up to read the news and discovering awful things about people you love, your life, or the world. But, at this point, when something bad happens, I think, 'Oh, of course.'" In a moment in time where anxiety and robots reign supreme, there is still time to reexamine human emotions and how we deploy them, sadness is among them, and its accompanying music is among them too.