21 by MATILDA PRATT is an introspective anthem, defined by the bizarre mix of confidence and uncertainty that is a part of growing up. 21 achieves this with a stellar combination of indie pop and soft rock.
I love the thematic link of having a younger version of yourself sitting in the car with you. I think there is a purity to a child’s dreams. When Pratt says she wants to make her younger self proud, it suggests that she is pursuing the life that she truly wants, away from the judgemental and rigid perspective of others. I also think the “seven and fourteen” line is thoughtful. It breaks down the barriers between the ages and emphasises how quickly societal standards change as people grow up. Pratt explores that rapid evolution through the line.
The vocal delivery balances the confidence and insecurity necessary to dive into the themes. Pratt belts out the choruses with cathartic energy while parts of the verses capture that unease of going into the world, totally unproven. The subtle trills in her vocal range feel probing and insecure. The tone feels like she is asking her younger self and the listener: “Am I doing this right?” This questioning tone feels like the correct choice for the delivery.
The foundation of the instrumental is layers of guitars. They begin with a tonal depth that matches the intensity of the coming-of-age vibe the song exudes. As the track moves into the chorus, new layers of strumming add a bright and shiny timbre. These two aspects contrast each other nicely. They build tension during the uncertain verses and release it in the energetic choruses.
21 captures this uncertain time in life beautifully. Pratt comes at the piece thematically with infectious conviction and energy. The layered guitar instrumental, the excellent delivery, and the articulate lyrics make this piece stand out.