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In the world of TikTok and playlists, many artists trying to break into music are ditching big projects like albums and EPs and opting for more frequent single releases to increase their chances of being heard. Despite these arguments surrounding algorithms and playlisting, Lizzy McAlpine’s latest album, five seconds flat, has seen widespread success and is a testament to the power of full-length albums. Upon release, McAlpine advised fans to listen to the album start to finish, writing on Instagram, “i really put a lot of work into making sure that the track list was in the right order and the story that it told was cohesive so i would urge you to listen through the first time in order.”

Following McAlpine’s advice and listening to the 45-minute long album track-by-track, it’s clear that she put a lot of care into her storytelling, and the listening experience is entirely different when thinking about the songs as a story arc instead of individual tracks. The album opens with “doomsday,” the first single off five seconds flat that McAlpine released last fall. With the haunting opening line, “Pull the plug in September / I don’t wanna die in June,” the song sets the tone for what’s to follow and primes listeners for the nostalgic undertones that permeate the album. 

five seconds flat walks listeners through the phases of moving on from a relationship. Starting with melancholic reflections of a breakup on “an ego thing,” McAlpine then transitions into “erase me (feat. Jacob Collier),” which McAlpine describes as a song that depicts the “hoe phase,” which typically follows a breakup. From there, she moves to “all my ghosts,” a song that wrestles with the challenges of falling in love again after being hurt by a previous partner. Likewise, “reckless driving (feat. Ben Kessler)” and “firearm” also explore the idea of past pains inhibiting trust in new relationships. Even as McAlpine moves between new forms of love and mourning, a common thread always persists: It’s nearly impossible to completely erase someone’s memory, even when life continues on. 

There’s a pause in this narrative on “chemtrails,” a song dedicated to McAlpine’s father, who passed away two years ago. “I still play with my food, I’m a child at the grown-up’s table / It’s so hard to believe, but right now, I feel stable,” McAlpine croons over a gentle piano. The song ends with samples from home videos of McAlpine and her father from when she was younger. 

McAlpine concludes the album with “orange show speedway,” an anthemic pop track that is vastly different from any of its predecessors on the album. Like “chemtrails,” “orange show speedway” samples vlogs from McAlpine’s YouTube channel, featuring her and her friends. Despite the energy of this ending track, the last line brings us full circle and is a reminder of the album’s central message: ​“When you’re racing head-first towards something that’ll kill you in five seconds flat / When I’m racing head-first towards everything that I want back.” Whether it’s a past relationship or a lost family member, McAlpine brings comfort to those who are still chasing feelings that have been lost. While this line doesn’t necessarily provide the closure one would expect, it emphasizes the fact that mourning is not a linear process. Our pasts shape how we approach future relationships and life experiences. 

The album is accompanied by a short film written by McAlpine and is a compilation of music videos previously released for singles off the album. She leans heavily into the nostalgic undertones with a Day of the Dead-esque motif, featuring the artist with her face painted as a ghost-like character throughout the film. 

As a new artist just starting to find her footing in the mainstream scene, McAlpine has demonstrated an impressive capacity for collaboration on this album. From features with indie artist Ben Kessler to Grammy-winning FINNEAS, five seconds flat is also a testament to McAlpine’s respect for artists, both large and small, in the industry. The fact that she has maintained close ties to the artists she worked with as an emerging artist, and also has the courage to pursue collaborations with world-renowned musicians, shows McAlpine’s grit and passion for what she does. 

McAlpine’s authenticity is what has earned her such a loyal fan base over the years. Shortly after five seconds flat dropped, McAlpine announced her world tour, set to start this summer, which sold out in a matter of hours. McAlpine had to politely ask fans on social media to be patient with her as she looks into moving some of the shows to larger venues or scheduling second shows to accommodate more people. Her fans have watched her go from making TikToks in her bedroom to performing on late-night television shows, so there’s a special excitement surrounding the release of five seconds flat, her first project as a touring artist. As McAlpine kicks off her tour as an opener for Coldplay and continues to build off of the momentum she’s created around five seconds flat, there’s no doubt she will be an artist to watch in the months to come.

Daily Arts Writer Kaitlyn Fox can be reached at