Euphoric Sad Songs

Euphoric Sad Songs

By the time Raye released her mini album Euphoric Sad Songs in 2020, the South London-born artist had already made her mark as one of the UK’s premier songwriters, having penned tracks for such megawatt stars as Beyoncé, Little Mix, and Charli XCX (she’d also appeared as a guest vocalist on chart smashes with Jax Jones and David Guetta). Raye’s solo career, though, wasn’t progressing so smoothly; as she’d later acknowledge, Raye had spent this period feeling creatively stifled, unable to release the music she wanted. It’s a situation that would change once she ventured out as an independent artist, scoring her first proper solo hit with 2022’s tortured but brilliant “Escapism,” a standout on her debut album My 21st Century Blues. In that context, it might be tempting to disregard Euphoric Sad Songs; indeed, compared to the experimental lilt found on My 21st Century Blues, the nine tracks that make up Euphoric Sad Songs are, perhaps, safer. Nevertheless, taking a more commercial approach feels deliberate: Released while in the trenches of pop’s politicking, Euphoric Sad Songs finds Raye flexing her ability to craft undeniable pop hits. She does so by harnessing her own heartache. A document of post-breakup grief, Euphoric Sad Songs leans into an arena Raye is familiar with: the dance floor. She pulls from the chart-friendly house music for which she was so often a guest vocalist, wrapping the four-to-the-floor beats up with achingly emotional lyrics. The subterranean synths of “Regardless,” which interpolate iiO’s classic floor-filler “Rapture,” are clouded with loneliness. Desperate vulnerability underpins the pillowy synth-pop of “Change Your Mind.” And the stabbing bass of “Secrets” brings Raye’s anxieties over possible infidelities into focus—a mood that’s further intensified by “Natalie Don’t,” a rain-soaked modern-day disco take on Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.” The clouds do break, though, with Raye prioritizing the love she has for herself. “One second I cry, then I'm laughing/I know it wouldn't make any sense,” she admits on the funkadelic “Love of Your Life,” before cracking out in a grin: “But I could be the love, be the love, be the love/Be the love of your life.” It’s an uplifting finale, one that confirms Euphoric Sad Songs' place in the pantheon of pop that argues for the healing powers of crying at the discotheque.

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