Reviewed by Amelia Williamson

Crystal: Dead Ends EP

Reviewed by Amelia Williamson

Crystal: Dead Ends EP

New EP ‘Dead Ends’ from Tāmaki Makaurau artist Crystal Amor-Ponter boasts four pop inspired tracks, each illustrating aspects of the existential uncertainty of adolescence.

Listen to it here.

‘Dead Ends’ comes just one year after her debut EP ‘Garlic Ice Cream’ and follows a similar avenue, with a distinctly local pop sound underpinning deeply personal lyricism. Known artistically as Crystal, the singer teamed up with co-writer and co-producer Joel Jones to create this EP which cleverly balances coming-of-age angst with an instantly appealing pop tone. Jones has collaborated with a number of artists within the past year such as Holly Cameron (aka Yahyah) and Dallas James on their breakthrough EPs, and carries a specific creative flair which clearly glows through the tracks on ‘Dead Ends’.

This sophomore EP opens with Break, an upbeat, yet painfully nostalgic description of a young person coming to a dead end. Crystal explores certain struggles faced by young people that are often left undiscussed, particularly the uneasiness of moving between flats and the weight of hopelessness.

Released as a single in November 2022, Expectations Suck! light-heartedly captures the struggle faced by musicians and young people in the early stages of their careers, whilst remaining sonically relevant to Aotearoa’s pop scene, boasting trendy instrumentation and production. Pressure, the sole new release of the EP, grapples with similar themes, inviting the listener into a painfully honest insight into Crystal’s journey, including the lyrics, “Under pressure, under pressure, it falls down on me so deep, I’m under pressure.”

Skin, released in January this year, provides a change of pace and texture, moving up to a fast-tempo dance-pop sound. The production draws attention to the creative artistry of both Jones and Amor-Ponter, who explore their special ability to produce a track which is unique to the EP, yet stays sonically cohesive. Throughout the track Crystal creatively exhibits a desire that many of us share, an exciting escape from the mundane of everyday life.

Despite riding dangerously close to some current pop music clichés at times, Crystal has created an EP that’s impossible to ignore, shining an honest light on the hardship of being a young musician struggling to fulfil her dreams. She has a charming, expressive voice with plenty of easy appeal whether whispered, spoken or sung. The unique aspect of this work is that ‘Dead Ends’ feels like a warm hug and a breath of belonging, under the guise of a dance-pop EP which listeners can shake off their own anxieties to.