Recommended Tracks: “Tough Boy”, “Girls In Line for the Bathroom”, “Gucci Knife”
Artists You May Like: Ava Max, Zara Larsson, Kat Cunning
There will always be a breakup to endure. A failed friendship to process. A time to seek closure. In these moments, we might feel a need to act “tough” or laugh instead of cry. However, sometimes we have to get to a vulnerable place to find out who we truly are, which is what Carlie Hanson conveys on her debut album, Tough Boy. Instead of living up to society’s expectations and adhering to specific labels, Carlie tells us about the necessity of staying true to yourself and embracing all that comes with such a decision.
Starting with the opening track “Off My Neck,” Carlie gives us brutally honest tracks throughout the album that uncover the pain and frustration she has felt when various relationships turn ugly. On “Off My Neck,” Carlie can’t stop thinking of a former friend who betrayed her, stunned that this person would turn on her after all they have been through. We also have “Gucci Knife,” where Carlie teams up with indie pop artist MASN to retell a gut-wrenching, unexpected breakup. The newest of these heartbreaking tracks, though, comes in the form of “Nice To Know Ya.” This previously unreleased guitar-driven pop song explores the humiliation and regret of opening up to someone who should not have been trusted. Candidly, Carlie sings, “Put my heart in a heart-shaped container / Then you threw it / Out the window / Like an asshole,” wishing that she could take back everything she said.
Still, Carlie is someone who can be very forgiving, despite all that she puts up with. On the feisty “Snot,” Carlie sings, “If I’m gonna waste my life / Let me waste my life on you,” showing that she is more than ready to commit to a long-distance relationship, which is never easy. On the album’s final tracks, “Love You Anyway” and “Come Back Around,” Carlie takes her compassion one step further. On the semi-acoustic “Love You Anyway,” Carlie sings about loving someone who is a little rough around the edges. Even though “it’s all too much to take,” she loves this person anyway. We also have a similar idea on “Come Back Around,” where Carlie tries to get through to someone she used to know very well, but now comes off as a complete stranger. In the end, she hopes that this person will “come back around” and be someone she can laugh with, like they did in the old days.
A few of my favorite songs on Tough Boy happen to be the ones where Carlie is a little more introspective. On the title track, for instance, Carlie sings about that need to feel strong in moments of weakness. Even though it might take time to be that “tough boy” she envisions, she knows she will get there. There is also “Girls In Line for the Bathroom,” where Carlie asks, “Why can’t everybody be as nice as girls in line for the bathroom?” and wishes that the person she loves could be as open as them. Another track that involves meeting random strangers in public is “Fake Smile,” where Carlie sings about talking to a distraught “girl with a fake smile” at a bar. This girl is battling some intense demons, but Carlie knows that things will get better for her, as she sees a lot of herself in this girl.
Overall, Tough Boy is a firm album for Carlie, elaborating on who she is personally and musically. We hear so many compelling stories, from her deepest thoughts to telling secrets. There is also a range of styles throughout, pushing her out of that “pop artist” zone that she has been tied to over the past few years. In the end, we learn that being “tough” means being able to embrace all kinds of situations and emotions, even if they make you break down and cry.
You can listen to Tough Boy on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.