“Portals” by Melanie Martinez


Mercury Moon Cycle

Portals Melanie Martinez

On March 31, 2023, Melanie Martinez released her third studio album, titled “Portals.” It continues the story Martinez began singing about in her album “Crybaby,” following the character with the same name. Having been reincarnated into a new, otherworldly being, the album tells the tales of her journey as well as stories of the singer’s personal life.

The album opens up with the cryptic-sounding “Death.” Featuring some of the most self-reflective lyrics she’s ever written, the song perfectly encapsulates the entirety of what she’s trying to show with this album: growth (or, as Martinez would prefer, re-birth). She’s “back from the dead,” and better than ever. Like many songs on the album, it starts up slowly and explodes into a catchy, electric sounding chorus. “Void” and “Tunnel Vision,” the second and third tracks, are also examples of this.

In “Void” Martinez expresses her struggles with her self esteem – using ‘the void’ as an analogy – with gut-wrenching lyrics like “I’m trying to find a doorway / My eyes are staring at me / And they seem so damn unhappy.” Martinez does a great job at blending her character’s storyline as well as her own struggles into beautiful lyricism, especially in this song – something she’s been very talented at throughout her entire musical career. “Tunnel Vision,” another song touching on a serious topic, talks about the singer’s struggles with being objectified: “Your focus is empty / Tunnel vision then dead me / Honeysuckle and fresh meat / But I’m more than that, more than that”.

“Spider Web,” “Leeches,” and “Light Shower” represent, again, Martinez’s growth and her escaping from those bad for her. “Spider Web” begins with her talking about her desire for change and eventually getting there. “Leeches” discusses her restlessness with the bad people in her life – how they’ve drained her, and how she’s managed to escape.

“Light Shower” takes a sweeter approach to her new life: love. It’s all about breaking free from the chains of an old, past lover, and finally being with somebody that makes her feel how she should’ve felt all along. The instrumentals to “Light Shower” are slower in comparison to the others, which fits perfectly with the topic.

“Moon Cycle,” “Evil,” and “The Contortionist” all seem to be about Martinez’s ex, Oliver Tree. “The Contortionist” leans most in that direction, with Martinez saying, “This conflict song is about bending over backwards for someone that doesn’t accept you as you are.” Martinez reflects a lot of her hurt about the relationship, as well as her healing process in the album. “Nymphology” is about her taking back her power from the hurt he and many others caused her.

“Faerie Soiree,” “Battle of the Larynx,” and “Womb” are the last of the songs that contain the most metaphors about her character and the storyline she created for them. All of them have a mythical, free feeling to them.

With “Portals,” it’s apparent that Martinez has evolved in more ways than one: mentally, emotionally, and physically. This record perfectly encapsulates that; her style of music and song-writing has evolved and matured along with her, and it’s inspiring to anybody who wishes to go through that same kind of change. She’s taking her power back, and she’s stronger and happier than ever.