“Portals” Brings to Life a New Era For Melanie Martinez

Review of Portals by Melanie Martinez

After almost 4 years of a musical hiatus, Melanie Matinez is back from the dead with her 3rd studio album Portals.

Like her other concept albums, “Portals” follows the death of Martinez’s former musical persona crybaby as she enters into her reincarnated nymph form and explores the various portals of the afterlife.

Beginning with “DEATH” and ending with “THE WOMB” the 13-track album comes full circle ending with the same voiceover “death is life is death.”

This marks the end of an era for the alternative-pop singer as they’ve been performing and writing lyrics from the perspective of Crybaby ever since she introduced fans to her back in 2015. 

The Portals era seems to be rooted in Martinez’s relationship with spirituality as well as their own personal growth revolving around relationships, gender expression, and internet presence.

Martinez’s albums always contain deep symbolism, usually acquainting childlike imagery and phrases to adult themes, a popular thread throughout her debut and sophomore album “Crybaby” and “K-12”. 

In Portals, however, it’s clear Martinez is moving things in a more strictly adult direction as her lyrics though always thought-provoking, are more metaphorical, leaving fans with a lot more to decipher. 

Martinez was praised not only for their filmmaking talents with the release of her first feature-length musical film K-12, but for also naturally and thoughtfully implementing themes of bullying, eating disorders, trans discrimination, and identity into the film. 

Though Portals steers away from an adolescent setting, Martinez is unapologetically herself and unafraid to discuss topics of femininity, internet culture, and periods in their songs “NYMPHOLOGY”, “SPIDER WEB”, and “MOON CYCLE”. 

Martinez is known for their lullaby-like melodies utilizing synth instruments and haunting vocals to create a unique sound for each track. Now, she’s branching out with a more prominent guitar presence in “LIGHT SHOWER” and “BATTLE OF THE LARYNX”. 

Incorporating these instruments not only encapsulates a pastel-goth vibe effortlessly but also derives inspiration from Martinez’s alternative style roots. 

Many remember the singer’s audition when she was just 15 on season 3 of the voice where she sang a slowed, alternative-acoustic version of Britney Spears’ Toxic. The audition earned her 3 chair turns and a spot on Adam Levine’s team.

“THE CONTORTIONIST” and “TUNNEL VISION” also feature string instruments meshed with Martinez’s signature synth style. The distortions of their voice and laughs produce a chilling effect that clashes harmoniously with the lighter instrumentation. 

“EVIL” provides an in-depth look into a former toxic relationship faced by the singer/songwriter which many fans have speculated is about singer Oliver Tree who she dated from roughly 2019 to 2020.

Fans have also noticed that Martinez is wearing the same white floral dress that they wore in a picture next to Tree in the music video for “DEATH”-adding another layer to the track. 

Despite these connections, fans have made, “Portals” is more than a break-up album but an introspective journey of the singer’s career thus far and where she plans to venture next.  

Many devoted fans have also inquired whether or not “Portals” would make it to the big screen just as K-12 did in 2019. Martinez has noted that the script has been completed but official production of the project has not begun yet.  

In the meantime, fans can enjoy 3 more bonus tracks on the Portals Deluxe Edition, “POWDER”, “PLUTO”, and “MILK OF THE SIREN” which was released on April 5. 

The Portals tour kicks off on May 30 at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver, Colorado. Martinex will also be performing at notable venues such as the WAMU theater in Seattle, Washington, and Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Pop Culture Press