Griff – vertigo

On her first full-length project, Griff navigates big themes with maturity but fails to establish a unique sound that will elevate her insight

Album Review by Lucy Fitzgerald | 10 Jul 2024
  • Griff – vertigo
Album title: vertigo
Artist: Griff
Label: Warner Music
Release date: 12 Jul

vertigo is dense with thought. Griff is on the front lines of growing up, warring with terms she didn’t agree to. She marshalls her enlightenment into deft hooks of epigrammatic wit, but her identity gets lost in consistently hollow, monochromatic production. Sounding like manufactured catharsis that aspires to puncture the insular like Lorde, too many of its big, cacophonous choruses sit on the outskirts of impact. 

On lead single Vertigo she tells a flaky lover to stop the pity party and get a grip ('You’re scared of love? Well, aren’t we all!'), while Miss Me Too bemoans the hardening consequence of time, and its theft of an inner light. 19th Hour stings with the indignity that comes from one-sided effort ('When I love you starts to lose its meaning / You only say it just to cover up the bleeding'). 

Pillow In My Arms is a sober affair, but with moody percussion only reaching the intensity of early Shawn Mendes, its minor key melancholy simply isn’t affecting. Notably, Griff’s intonation here is distractingly indistinguishable from sad-girl impresario Julia Michaels, as is the case on Into The Walls, and Hole In My Pocket. Sonically, Anything shines only in the afterglow of past collaborator Sigrid, but as a standout dalliance with dopamine, Cycles excites as an elegant house track that does more with less.

With its Bastille-banging drums and isolated vocal layering, Tears For Fun feels like paint-by-numbers drama. Pulling back to a quivering vocal on the final line, after a massive outro of booming melody, feels as artificially engineered in its emotion as an actor using a tear stick to cry on cue. Hiding Alone is Haim in all but name as it oscillates between breezy and burdened delivery; its sparse drum and guitar achieving a crisp, laidback drive. 

A 2021 headline from The Cut read “Griff Is on a Mission To Stay Away From Conveyor Belt Pop”, but we fear that with vertigo, she is fixed firmly on the loop. Griff’s debut album is proficient pop, polished and clean – but to the point of sterility. It needs a bit of defilement.

Listen to: Vertigo, Cycles, Hiding Alone