On superficial first impressions alone, it’s easy to extrapolate where the push for Georgia is leading, namely with yet another mononymed female pop star that’s an easy pick for early-year ones to watch lists. Except that’s not quite the case as only a cursory dive reveals, with Georgia being a far more interesting artist on the whole. For one, she operates more on a producer level as well as a singer, and with previous experience as a drummer for acts like Kate Tempest, there’s the sort of diversity to her work that feels more at home in the indie-synthpop set than modern pop. Charli XCX is definitely a possible comparison for both artists’ cross-breeding of traditional pop frameworks with something a bit weirder and more off-kilter, but even that doesn’t form a very comprehensive picture of where Georgia is on the musical landscape. If nothing else, the parallel that’s most relevant is of an artist wriggling into the fringes of the mainstream getting that all-too-important push, and doing so without having to rely overly on compromise to get there. It’s an interesting notion, and given how Charli’s attempts eventually did see her rebound back to those edges, Seeking Thrills could achieve something rather special if that can be pulled off.
But with that in mind, while there’s no doubt that Georgia has the artistic edge on her contemporaries in pop and electronic music, Seeking Thrills isn’t quite the knockout it could’ve been. If anything, it’s another instance where the parallels with Charli XCX become more defined, especially with her last album Charli; both are peppered with moments of real inspiration and borderline transcendence in what they’re trying to do, but that’s marred by a lack of focus that only makes the disparity in quality feel more pronounced. To her credit, it feels as though Georgia has a better hand on controlling where her own brand of synthpop is going with fewer outwardly jarring shifts, but Seeking Thrills is still top-heavy and unable to follow with the momentum it initially builds. There’s unmistakably a core of quality here, but Seeking Thrills can skirt around its richer epicentre rather than diving straight in, and the fact that the end result is so uneven is a shame.
That’s especially the case when Georgia’s clearest strengths in terms of artistic direction are so pronounced on this album, and are so easy to single out amongst everything else. She’s easily at her best when dipping into tighter, more refined synthpop compositions, and that comes through in spades with the chugging low end and gleaming accents of About Work The Dancefloor or the on-a-sixpence contrast between the glassy, delicate keys, the snapping beat and the surging bass of The Thrills. This is the sort of material that’s incredibly easy to pin down as Georgia’s best, especially paired with her vocal timbre that falls somewhere between the smokier, more ethereal tones of Shura and Ellie Goulding’s more willowy register. Overall there’s a precision to the best songs on Seeking Thrills, and that makes it much easier to see when it falls away and the album as a whole does lose some of its shine. Going deeper into the well of synthpop experimentalism and exploring a variety of tones is worth praising, but there’s a solid chunk of Seeking Thrills that doesn’t stick the landing as cleanly as it could, falling into slower, more washed-out sounds that openly pivot away from what works best. At least on a track like Ultimate Sailor there’s a polish that matches its more solemn, introspective vibe (even if the synths can be a bit too shrill and warped to reach the same level), but with the lumbering progressions of I Can’t Wait and a surprisingly messy attempt to stitch together various angles on Feel It, the striving for variety comes at the expense of a decent sense of pacing or consistency. Nowhere is that more apparent than with Mellow, in which Georgia pulls out her own version of Charli’s Shake It by leaning into the seedier, more abrasive synth work and bringing in Shygirl for backup, only to have none of the rampant electricity and careering attitude to stop it from feeling like a chore.
In the context of the whole album, it’s a move that Georgia simply doesn’t feel equipped to make, especially thematically as an off-the-rails party track rattling off types of alcohol from an artist for whom their sobriety has become such a heavily defining factor in their work. Indeed, embracing that in the way that Seeking Thrills does is a strong move even if the music itself isn’t quite as good, and pushing forward with the love of the moment and the vibe is a potent sentiment that Georgia can spin in various effective ways. The club provides a sense of escapism for those who might be struggling elsewhere on About Work The Dancefloor, or a place when the drudgery and oppressiveness of rigid social conventions falls away on Ray Guns, and the potency of that notion is amplified by how isolated that moment of solace is on 24 Hours. It’s not groundbreaking by any means, but there’s an amount of populism to the way that Georgia crafts these fragments of light that, at the right moment, can give Seeking Thrills a real boost into excellence.
And in a way, it’s what makes it that much more disappointing that it only comes in moments rather than across an entire body of work. Georgia is certainly capable of pulling that off, especially given how easy the energy and spark comes in the highlights, and the ability to concentrate that brilliance into a full project is honestly undeniable. But Seeking Thrills feels more like the work of an artist trying to work out where her footing is rather than any concrete musical statement, peppered with flashes of the fertile ground that she could and should end up in. There’s enough to like here and enough to appreciate about an artist looking to forge her own path in such a way as this, but focus and scaling back are the two resources that’ll prove instrumental in taking Georgia further. The doors are open now; she just needs to recognise the most effective way to get through them.
For fans of: Alma, Charli XCX, older Ellie Goulding
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Seeking Thrills’ by Georgia is released on 10th January on Domino Recordings.