Ruel just released his debut studio album, even though his music career has been going for much longer than that. 4TH WALL, his new album, features 14 songs, with 6 songs that were released before the album release date of March 3, 2023. You may be wondering, who is Ruel? He is a 20 year old Australian singer with a mix of pop, soul, and R&B style music. One of his most recent achievements, other than the new album, was featuring on JVKE’s hit song golden hour. Some of his most famous songs include I DON’T WANNA BE LIKE YOU and MUST BE NICE, from the new album, and Painkiller, from his Free Time EP put out in 2019.
Here is a review of the 4TH WALL album songs:
GO ON WITHOUT ME: The beginning of this song is very show-tune sounding and the tempo is set by the constant piano key being played. The chorus is very upbeat, along with the rest of the song, and ends with a fun drum fill. While the song is fun, there is little development of the pace throughout and the background instrumentals can get old quickly. Unfortunately the opener to this album is my least favorite.
I DON’T WANNA BE LIKE YOU: This song is very upbeat, but the words represent anger or pity rather than happiness. The drums set the pace and mood of the song, which makes you want to dance. Before the chorus there is a loud crash of percussion that emanates the frustration. The words end early in this song and a fun beat plays for the last 40 or so seconds.
SITTING IN TRAFFIC: This song starts off slow, but engaging. The line right before the chorus sets up the mood of the song and then during the chorus the sudden inflection of his voice captures your attention. The words in the song also reflect the feeling of falling out of love with someone and the bridge really represents that. The whole song is melancholy, but still good enough to sing loudly in your car.
JAPANESE WHISKEY: The title of this song is mentioned almost immediately and sets up the tone of the song, sad and confused. This one is also slow, but the changing piano tune and increase in pitch of his voice captures your attention. After the first chorus, the song moves onto the beginning of the next verse, but then speeds up and develops after a percussion fill. This song is full of emotion and meaning and once it gets to the long instrumental part, it feels as though Ruel is still singing. The bridge and ending are the most intense parts of the song, but in a good way. Japanese Whiskey is my favorite song on this album because the progression during it satisfies me every time I hear it.
GROWING UP IS _____: The beginning of this song is kind of fun sounding with the guitar and instrumentals. The drum beat kicks off the lyrics and introduces the pace of the song. The chorus in this song offers things to fill in the blank in the title of the song. It captures adolescence, but I wish the second chorus had different things to fill in the blank, it just repeats the same ones. The bridge then repeats these things again, and at this point they can get a bit tiring. The song overall, though, has a fun beat and chill personality.
SET YOURSELF ON FIRE: The pace is immediately introduced through his tone and the background sounds. It moves quickly and gets to the point and then moves into the chorus, which is very catchy. He sings about self sabotage by singing fast and introducing lots of points at once. The line “set yourself on fire,” in the chorus, has a very engaging tone to it. He then repeats this at the end with a cinematic, and slightly overwhelmed, background.
LIE: The guitar at the beginning is immediately sort of melancholy and then when Ruel’s voice comes in you hear a new tone that has not been in the album beforehand. It’s slightly more electric or recorded sounding, if that makes sense. The chorus starts with him singing “lie” in a beautiful run, moves along, and then has another lovely run with the word “lie.” This song really captures some more of the range in his voice as he sings about not wanting to lose someone. The song wraps up with one last run and no instrumentals in the background to highlight the emotion in his voice.
LET THE GRASS GROW: This song is very emotional as Ruel sings about losing yourself. His voice with the guitar strumming in the first verse is very satisfying. Then, the transition from verse to chorus, and back to verse, is very smooth and pleasing. The new drum beat after the first chorus shows the increased confidence in his thoughts after the first part of the song. This speeds up the song, but not too much to distract from the sad tone in his voice. The bridge is a great representation of his range.
YOU AGAINST YOURSELF: This is one of the catchiest songs on the album. There is an immediate establishment of the importance of what he’s saying and how he wants to say it. The pace is very fast in order to explain his urgency in letting this person know they are self-sabotaging. He addresses someone during the entirety of the song, the someone is unknown, but you sympathize with not only them, but also Ruel as he tries to help them. The speed of the song makes this less serious than it could come across, and I think the beat is very addicting.
SOMEONE ELSE’S PROBLEM: This song, in contrast to the one before, uses the word “I” a lot as Ruel expresses the other person as being a problem he had to deal with in the past, but not anymore. It’s upbeat, but also emotional at the same time, and is very easy to bop your head to. It’s also super fun to sing as it can be relatable for many people, even if it applies to a past problem instead of a person. At the very end, also the bridge in this song, Ruel slows it down and takes a moment to acknowledge who will be the next ‘him’ dealing with that person.
WISH I HAD YOU: This song starts slow with a guitar and when Ruel’s voice comes in it is very rich and emotional. The sound before the chorus builds up even more emotion for him to sing about missing someone he wished he could have kept. The song lacks significant development, though, and I wish there were a few more lyrics that would switch it up.
IF AND/OR WHEN: This song is a head-bopper, but a slower one. It is pretty satisfying to sing because the words flow well and there are lots of runs and changes in tone of voice. His voice is very pretty in this one and you can tell he focused most of his vocals in this song. It’s short, sweet, and the chorus is very catchy.
MUST BE NICE: This song is clearly very sad from the beginning. The lyric “oh my god” near the start of the song is very drawn out and captures a lot of emotion in his voice. The lead up to the chorus is filled with relatable words and interesting progressions in his voice. This is another song that is very fun to sing to, especially if you’re in a mood. Ruel really understood how to convert his feelings into words and sounds for this song. The bridge is just slightly more chaotic than the rest and when it falls back to the pace before, there is more emotion than ever.
END SCENE: This is the final song in the album, and with that comes the expectation that the message will be wrapped up. His singing in the beginning sounds like another idea is being introduced, though. This then continues to the pre-chorus and chorus. While it’s interesting, sad, and captivating, I don’t get the feeling that the album has been correctly completed here. To compensate for this, Ruel made the ending have a repetitive line that takes a look back at the emotions he went through during this album. The instrumental at the end then does a good job of closing out the album and leaving the listener satisfied, but also wanting more.
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