Follow the Tunnels Into the Portals: A PORTALS Album Review

Follow the Tunnels Into the Portals: A PORTALS Album Review

Art Phillips

On March 31st, 2023, Melanie Martinez released their third studio album titled “Portals.” The album features 13 songs, two of which were previously released as singles. A deluxe edition of Portals was later released on April 5, with three exclusive songs. 

This album in particular represents a new era of the artist’s creative expression, as it is her first album in 4 years. Before her extended musical hiatus, Melanie’s albums followed a storyline and had a cohesive plot structure, with her starring as the main character, CryBaby, in a film and in music videos. However, the first song of Portals, “DEATH,” reveals that CryBaby has died and been reincarnated as a new ethereal being, which hatches from an egg with two sets of eyes and pointed ears in the music video. “Portals” and this new character signifies the new direction Martinez is taking with their music and the change in self they have experienced over their hiatus. It represents a change in self and becoming a new type of person. The character of CryBaby, who was a sensitive, feminine, and angelic figure, has died and became a darker and more assertive being.

Following suit with their last album, K-12, which entered a film format in 2019, Martinez has expressed the desire to take Portals and create a film off of the music and new character they are shaping. The second theatrical film is expected to be released in 2024.

As far as the music is concerned, it follows a similar fashion to some of Martinez’s previous styles, with specialized sound effects and synthesized vocals. However, Martinez constructed the album in a far different format than she previously had in other projects. “Portals” plays together as an interconnected piece of art. The songs blend together more smoothly and lead into each other. This allows for the album to feel a lot more natural in its transitions.

While listening to Portals for the first time, I was surprised by how seamlessly the songs flowed into each other. It feels very different from Martinez’s past projects, and it definitely is intended to feel that way. I thoroughly enjoyed this album, in all its complexities and oddities. The rebirth of Martinez’s brand and character in Portals celebrates who they were and who they are becoming, and while I will miss who Crybaby was, I am excited to see the direction Melanie is taking. The best tracks of the album were arguably the three tracks later released on the deluxe album.