With a background in performance art, experimental theater, as well as singing and composition, Alice Tolan-Mee has previously worked on such avant-garde projects as a feminist play inspired by Ionesco’s The Chairs. Alice TM is her new conduit for exploring her pop side as a vocalist and songwriter. On debut Little Body In Orbit she uses addictive pop hooks backed by melancholic, often baroque electronics, to reframe her recent traumas into an empowering narrative of growth and transformation.
The nascent themes of queer love explored on 2020’s “buried” (“Maybe I have found religion/ Buried in the sheets with her”) are brought to the forefront throughout the album. Opener “Generous” is an unapologetically lesbian anthem dedicated to the intoxicating feeling of falling in love (“I will bathe in you completely/ I will swallow what you feed me”), a sentiment echoed by the gorgeous “Contact Electric” (“My mouth will nourish her/ And what she feels/ I give her contact electric”).
It’s easy to get lost in Tolan-Mee’s seductive voice and catchy harmonies before noticing the gravity of her subject matter. Tracks like “Saying Nothing” or “Passive” describe the complicated dynamic of arguing with a controlling partner, while “Marbles” talks about miscarriage, PTSD, and lingering pain over sparse, distorted guitar plucking.
With her soaring, angelic voice, Alice TM sings about heartbreak, navigating an abusive relationship, and embracing her own queerness in a way that is as painfully honest as it is stylistically exquisite. The result is a joyous celebration of lessons learned as well as future possibilities.