L Devine’s mixtape Peer Pressure remains, in my eyes, one of highlights of the 2018 musical calendar and perfectly evoked all the emotions that come from the transition between adolescence to adulthood. Since then three years have gone by and L Devine has gone from a promising young pop artist, to a fully realised heavy hitter in the pop world with her attitude-filled, melody-heavy and authentically driven sound striking a chord with a new generation of music fans. Gliding like an Olympic figure skater between emphatic pop anthems that would get any club dancing uncontrollably (just wait til she performs at HEAVEN to see what I mean) and emotive ballads about the struggles of young queer love, she doesn’t like to be labelled as a singular pop artist. She wants to make you feel, whether it be the type where you’re crying into your pillow or belting out her songs with a smile across your face. Near Life Experience: Part 1 is all this and then some.
The opening track Be In Her Bedroom is a yearning queer love track that goes through all the usual cliches that come with intense feelings of love. Seeing someone as completely perfect, wanting to be with them 24/7, doing stupid things together and to just be apart of their life. Hopeful yet solemn, you are invited into Devine’s headspace and soon find yourself relating her lyrics to your current love life, a rare feat many artists struggle to accomplish.
Don’t Say It has a throbbing electronic that pulsates like the rhythm of a heartbeat with Devine’s charismatic vocal filling these moments of silence with unrivalled amounts of personality that’s hard not to love. Balancing a tightrope like a prime Charles Blondin, Devine makes an anthemic pop number that you can belt out in a car with your close friends but also relate to the earnest lyrics and her passionate vocal performance. A standout on this EP.
The title of this track says it all, there’s no deep meaning behind it because Girls Like Sex is about just that, girls enjoying sex. Considering the majority of songs about sex are done through the male lens and can be quite derogatory, Devine instead creates a joyous fun pop bop that is like if Carly Rae Jepsen and Olivia Rodrigo had a musical baby. Plus that hook is near impossible to get out of your head.
Naked Alone was dropped back in 2019 and my comments about it still stand, it’s a damn good summer anthem that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s something that you could hear on the radio and immediately get hyped up about, even if you’ve never heard it before you’d be singing that hook like it’s been your favourite song since birth in no time at all. A groove filled, summer anthem you need on your playlists.
Sonically Off The Grid is the most out there thing Devine has done on the EP, with a unique electronic drop that is weird yet utterly charming at the same time. It matches the honey-drizzled atmosphere Devine has been creating throughout the project but gives it its own special flavour that makes the track a delectable treat you’d more than happily have seconds of. Genuinely that drop in the chorus is so whimsically off-kilter and gives me a more uplifting Bad Guy vibe.
Priorities is happy and sad, fierce and confident but vulnerable and small, seemingly finding joy even when the heart is breaking, finding solace in knowing this frustrating relationship has allowed you to grow as a person. Her authentic storytelling is unrivalled as she elegantly pulls together her emotions in a sad dance bop that grows as it means to go on. One of her finest tracks on this project.
And now we arrive at the grand finale, Wish You Saw Me is something you’d expect to hear in a modern coming of age movie as we see a montage of the our main character attempting to catch the popular girl’s eye, only to realise they’re just fading in the background. It ends the project on a nostalgic high that highlights her narrative driven storytelling that feels like it’s been torn straight our of Devine’s own diary.
Overall, this EP cements L Devine as the UK’s new addition to the pop royal family. She’s produced a project most icons of today would be jealous of, seriously there’s a reason Charli XCX called her the future, and I have no doubt L Devine will continue to shine as the years go by.