Shares new single ‘Teenage Dream’
Debut album When I’m Alone
due 28/10 via Royal Mountain Records
girlpuppy’s (aka Becca Harvey) has shared ‘Teenage Dream’, the latest single from her highly-anticipated debut LP When I’m Alone, due out on the 28th October via Royal Mountain Records.
Produced with Slow Pup member Henry Stoehr and Alex G guitarist Sam Acchione, girlpuppy’s debut has seen the tracks “Wish”, “I Want To Be There” and “Destroyer” released so far, picking up praise from Fader, The Line of Best Fit, Clash, Paste, Brooklyn Vegan, Under The Radar plus many more.
“I wrote “Teenage Dream” after I cried at an Atlanta United soccer game at Mercedes Benz stadium.” Says Harvey.
“The song’s about a guy I lead on who looks like Keanu Reeves, and it’s the first one we made for the album. It was, in part, inspired by Caroline Polachek, who said in an interview that her lyrics for “Bunny Is A Rider” make no real sense, and that they just sounded good to sing. Similarly, the chorus lyrics to teenage dream don’t make much sense, but I do enjoy singing them. An important detail: I’m talking to my puppy Obi at the beginning, and you can hear him barking at the end.”
Embracing this sincere melody amongst the faster rhythm “Teenage Dream” exudes this magical energy. Another engrossing ensemble from Girlpuppy which captures an array of fragility amongst the stirring sensation of the tonality, the tempo, and the intense rhythmic pull. The ethereal vocal harmonies soar amongst the textures and add complexity to the vision.
It seems like a contradiction coming from Becca Harvey, a singer and songwriter whose lyrics’ undisguised sentimentality and witty self-effacement have garnered quick acclaim for her project girlpuppy. But on “Permanent State,” the closing track of her debut full-length When I’m Alone, Harvey sings: “I hate writing songs.”
Since the Atlanta-based project’s debut in 2020, Harvey’s applied her emotional and vocal versatility to whatever genre she sees most fit for girlpuppy to explore. First came the lo-fi guitar pop of introductory single “For You”; next, the self-described “sad girl” indie of 2021’s Swan, a collaboration with producer Marshall Vore (Phoebe Bridgers, Ada Lea) that drew praise from the likes of NPR and Nylon; “I Miss When I Smelled Like You,” girlpuppy’s foray into ‘70s-indebted arena pop, saw her team up with Doug Schadt (Maggie Rogers, Claud) on a breezily yearning break up jam.
Harvey has deep gratitude for her career recording and touring—including with some of her favourite artists, The Districts and Matt Maltese. But it’s not always light work parsing through the feelings that lead to heavy-hitting songwriting. “It’s hard to relive something bad that’s happened to you, and write it in a way that sounds beautiful and clever,” Harvey admits. “You want to write about it in a way that no one’s ever heard of before.” This striving for self-betterment is at the core of When I’m Alone, a record which centres Harvey’s dreamy vocals in intricate soundscapes, all while confronting the introspective thoughts she’s experienced in isolation.
In advance of recording girlpuppy’s first album, Harvey and collaborator John Michael Young went in for a trial session at local studio Standard Electric. There, they worked on “Teenage Dream,” a fingerpicked, mid-tempo groover on which Harvey gracefully navigates the memorable opening line: “Everytime I’m in the bathroom / I pray that I’ll die like Elvis […] with my hair done and all my clothes still on.” Of the session, Harvey says: “I really liked it, but I love to travel to make music. I knew I couldn’t do it in Atlanta.”
A backstage hang with Alex G after girlpuppy’s Riot Fest set introduced Harvey and Young to guitarist Sam Acchione, whose production work she’d admired on Tomberlin’s Projections EP. That same weekend, they met engineer and mixer Henry Stoehr of the Chicago band Slow Pulp, another of Harvey’s contemporary favourites. The stars aligned for the four musicians to work together, and not only due to shared musical interests like Big Thief and Snail Mail. “I don’t think I’d ever felt more heard or seen,” says Harvey of her working relationship with Acchione and Stoehr. “Sam and Henry made me feel very secure in every decision we made.”
In December of that year, Harvey flew to Philly for a short session at Hidden Fortress, resulting in some of the album’s highlights—including “Destroyer,” a galloping, kick drum-driven anthem inspired by the novel Daisy Jones & the Six which voices anxiety over the unintended trajectories of decision making. While the warehouse studio was special, it was also freezing, and ultimately not the right ambience for the full session. girlpuppy and team eventually decamped to an atmospheric mountainside cabin in hyper-rural Thorn Hill, Tennessee, where they wrote and recorded for three weeks in February 2022.
While girlpuppy’s influences on this record range from the guitar-heavy swirl of My Bloody Valentine to the lilting pop wordplay of Caroline Polachek, one formative collection became a polestar for When I’m Alone’s sound: the Twilight: New Moon soundtrack. “That album really shifted things for me and brought me into the music I still listen to,” says Harvey. “It got me into Grizzly Bear and Radiohead and Bon Iver: that woodsy, mountain-esque type of music.”
Acchione’s adeptness with Lindsey Buckingham-style riffs and delay pedal experimentation brought a timeless cool to the tracks; Stoehr showed Harvey The Roches, which had an impact on Harvey’s vocal harmonies, showcasing the growth in her range from touring. On lead single “Wish,” girlpuppy tackles the discomfiting uncertainty when friends exit your life for unclear reasons; springy Britpop strums and modulating bells lay a trampolining foundation for Harvey’s repeated desire for understanding: “I wish I knew everything.”
Dark piano and quick-moving guitar climbs composed by Young were the foundation for “I Want to Be There,” and Harvey, ever a perfectionist, was so in love with the riff she was anxious to write over it unless she could deliver a knockout. She took lyrical inspiration from a 2020 heartbreak in which her landlord sold her house, causing all of her roommates to leave the state. The resulting song, one of Harvey’s favourites, became about feelings of loneliness and anhedonia, even and especially when you’re with a partner; “What if I did what I want and felt nothing?” she sings. “Another day being myself. / Hate that I’m with me forever.”
Across the record, Harvey weaves in several cinematic allusions: a Keanu Reeves look alike pops up in “Teenage Dream,” named for the alternate title of an ‘80s movie he stars in; doppelgänger-ish love interests in “Destroyer” are “both played by Sam Rockwell / your roles are intertwined,” alluding to the 2009 space drama Moon. The Twilight influence also extends to the lyrics: the movie is about protagonist Bella’s struggle with being alone, and Harvey describes this record as her “Bella era.”
Even though Hollywood references pop up—a byproduct, perhaps, of Harvey writing honestly about what she does when she’s alone—girlpuppy’s songwriting has markedly evolved to focus less on the external and more on what’s inside. “I’m used to writing about other people, and including details about other people’s lives,” explains Harvey of her previous releases. “With When I’m Alone, the theme really is my internal battles with things I’ve done, rather than reflecting and blaming everyone else.” When you’re scrutinizing yourself in the mirror for lyrical fodder, it’s no wonder you’d come to a line like “I hate writing songs”—but it’s ultimately a ruse. Gushing about “Permanent State,” Harvey says: “I love how cinematic this song feels; the keys sound so beautiful. It’s a coming-of-age, movie-type song.” Did she hate writing it? Not a chance. “It’s my favorite song I’ve ever made,” she declares with satisfaction.
1. Final Girl
3. Teenage Dream
6. I Want To Be There
9. Emma Marie
11. When I’m Alone
12. Permanent State