Two years ago, Julia Michaels stepped out from behind-the-scenes to try and be a pop star in her own right. That effort resulted in one huge single, “Issues,” and enough winning songs to make a pretty decent EP, Nervous System, that served as an impressive calling card for the young pop songwriter. Since then, her output has been a little spotty — there was a forgettable Fifty Shades soundtrack song and a Trippie Redd collab — but today she returns with a new EP, Inner Monologue, Part 1, where she seems to be getting back on track.
She’s still largely adhering to the Michaels formula — which mainly involves a syncopated rhythm, a jumble of words, negative space, and an undeniable hook — but it’s a formula that works well, and there’s some solid additions to the Michaels canon here. “Anxiety,” which features Selena Gomez, finds the two of them trading thoughts on their mental health over snaps and a razor-sharp guitar. On “Into You,” she adds in stadium echoes and booms and a strobing vibe that strikes just left of Lorde.
The most immediate standout is “Happy,” where Michaels, strained-voice and desperate, breaks out of beat to reflect on how writing lovesick songs might affect her life as a whole. “Sometimes I think I kill relationships for art/ I start up all this shit to watch them fall apart/ I pay my bills with it/ I watch them fall apart and pay the price for it,” she sings.
Check it out below.