Melanie Martinez's 'Cry Baby' haunts, charms


By Caroline Binley (@carolinebinley)
Dollhouses, games of tag and birthday parties are iconic tokens of childhood. Memories, strong or vague, from a simpler time. That is, they are if you haven’t heard Melanie Martinez’s debut album, “Cry Baby,” released Monday.
“Cry Baby” takes childlike aesthetics and turns them on their head, giving way from adult topics from abuse (“Alphabet Boy,” “Teddy Bear”) to public appearances (“Dollhouse”) and plastic surgery (“Mrs. Potato Head.”) The album was long-awaited after Martinez’s 2012 run on The Voice, where she made it to the top six, and her 2014 EP, and it doesn’t disappoint.
Though the melodies aren’t anything riveting — they exist somewhere between Marina’s bright pop and Lana’s slow angst without bringing anything new to the table — they are welcoming, and her lyrics dive deeper than many recent releases.
Even Halsey’s recently-released “Badlands,” praised for its lyricism, falls flat in comparison.
The album’s brightest song is literally called “Cry Baby,” which doesn’t bode if you’re looking for a mood lifter, but lyrics like, “Your heart’s too big for your body / It’s why you can’t fit inside / [Your tears are] pouring out / Where everyone can see,” hit harder than the average pop number.

Its darkest turn may be “Sippy Cup,” covering everything from drugs to depression and eating disorders without losing the odd twinge of innocence it gains through its title.
I’ll admit the mix of youth and darkness isn’t always comfortable, and at times it feels like a return to the emo days of middle school, but it’s honest and unforgettable in a way few albums manage to achieve.