Adrian Underhill 
After This 

Next Door Records • 2023

Adrian Underhill animates themes of loneliness and isolation with the substance of a singer-songwriter and the charisma of a pop singer.

After This by Toronto-based alt-pop artist Adrian Underhill is full of hopeful, feel-good songs for the long and winding road (both literal and figurative). Underhill animates themes of loneliness and isolation with the substance of a singer-songwriter and the charisma of a pop singer, with lyrics that emphasize the importance of moving through difficult transitions and into better times.

As someone who often dwells in the company of low-fi bummer tunes, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I connected with the more polished, upbeat vibes on After This. It reminded me of feeling things I can’t honestly say I’ve felt since much simpler times. All of the songs are incredibly catchy but arranged thoughtfully, using quirky instrumental tones and synths that create big swells of emotion. The result is radio-friendly bops that still feel mindful to listen to.

The opening song, “Will It Get Better,” alludes to loss and the proud impact grief has on the reality of those who remain after. Beginning in a place of disbelief and questioning, the album progresses through the process of coming to terms with change and the need for people you can lean on. If I’m being candid, I don’t always have the capacity for the high degree of optimism to be found in a lot of indie-pop, but it’s nice knowing it’s there and coming from a place of perseverance. Plus, tracks like “Better Side” are super nostalgic and fun to listen to with the 80s soft rock drum tones and slower groove. 

The short interlude, “Someone’s Waiting Now”, leans a little heavier into the indie/alternative vibes with droning synths and a descending melody, transitioning away from the higher driving, poppier majority of songs to the more laid-back yet equally optimistic closer “This Is Not the End”. More of a ballad, the final track offers reassurance in the process of self-rediscovery: “Things will carry on, you’ll still be yourself even when you think your window is closing, you’ll be open to something else, ‘cause this is not the end.”

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