There’s just an aura that Sophie Powers gives off that telegraphs the impressive ease with which she hits the copy-and-pastable criteria of a new crossover artist. At 17, she’s young and precocious with a presence conducive to online savvy, and noteworthy for right this second, she’s hitting the TikTok pop-punk beats that have seen recent output from Avril Lavigne or WILLOW ingratiated into the genre’s inner circle. All that comes with a liberal dabbling in hyperpop—a style that’s been dubbed ‘hyperpop-punk’, FYI—to hammer home Powers’ vaunted ambitions for a place on the bleeding edge of modern music’s frontline. And while that’s all perfectly fine, the massive caveat is how many artists are on nearly the same path with the same goal, a factor that demands a grasp of originality that’ll immediately cut a swathe through those who simply don’t have it. With Powers though, a six-track EP isn’t nearly enough evidence to draw an ample conclusion, but Red In Revenge at least showing signs of something worth being drawn to is a good sign early on. At the same time though, that comes with the recognition that improvements are still very much needed, and not in insignificant quanities either. Production once again is chief among them, a persistent issue that a lot of artists in this lane struggle with, though to Powers’ credit, the merit to her approach is at least there. Inconsistency is her greatest hurdle, especially when she actually has a pretty defined angle already that can yield good results in the fizzy pop whirr of Breakup On The Weekend or the trudging SoundCloud knock of U Love It. But then there’s Clearview and Greed where the guitars are so muddy and underpowered, or Lonely Army with its hanging grunge riffs that never don’t sound awkward. The silver lining is that Powers is doing more than expected, but it rings of an early draft rather than a finished product, trying to mesh sounds that stumble into pockets of quality rather lock into them wholly.
There’s definitely an outline that’s better realised than a full product, mostly coming through in how some slapdash choices will seem so prominent. There’s supposed to be a shrill, piercing quality to some of the electronic elements, but the way it can smother anything organic isn’t ideal; it’s a similar case with the drums punching through Life Goes On!!, seemingly trying to fight back but clipping the mix to do so. At the same time though, Powers already has a good ear for a hook, and this is certainly catchier than a lot in its vein. It’s definitely drawing from the modern set wholeheartedly, falling amidst the hypebeast crowd and the crossover girls while thankfully trending towards more of the sharpness of the latter. Granted, that’s underlined by themes that haven’t changed in a while—the Gen Z viewpoint is worn like a badge of honour across every emotional permutation—but some above-average hooks hold it firmer than most. Choruses are punched up a bit more, which tends to salve the Kryptonite of another disaffected-by-design vocal performance. Indeed, Red In Power isn’t exactly a bevy of singing talent; Powers is fine enough and often bolstered by her guest stars (particularly NOAHFINNCE on Clearview and Kellin Quinn on 1 Thing), but it’s really only $atori Zoom who fully impresses with his Corpse Husband impression on U Love It. It’s the hit-or-miss side of Red In Revenge coming through once again, flaunting some smatterings of ideas that have merit in a bubble, but can struggle to come together for the time being. Of this wave in this generation of artists though, Powers definitely seems like one of the brighter ones; the realised ideas and concepts are right out in the open, taking turns that do feel relatively unique and have some interesting components to them. But components are all they are right now, and it’s noticeable how that’s coming to pass. The resolve isn’t there at the moment, but the signs that it could be aren’t nothing either.
For fans of: Siiickbrain, DE’WAYNE, jxdn
‘Red In Revenge’ by Sophie Powers is released on 20th May on Set Records.
Words by Luke Nuttsall