Sweetly scathing and swift with a verse, Caity Baser epitomises the new age of whistle-stop pop. Her ‘Still Learning’ mixtape plays out every almost romance, delicate decision and reinvention of spirit with witty abandon; entire expanses of thought all in under three minutes a piece. Angelic vocals turn into acidic rap on a dime – it’s the sound of someone experimenting with colour by tossing paint at the sky. She’s Kate Nash for the Instagram age. Lily Allen injected with caffeine. Herself without a filter. “It’s all for the story I say, do it for the plot.”

Baser is everything you’d want from a modern pop star. Opening track ‘I’m a Problem’ spits attitude into the faces of her doubters while ‘Showgirl’ stands statuesque above the noise. In the latter, she scats, “even if he was your whole world, don’t let him know girl.” It’s poise personified. Placed carefully between the grit and the glamour, ‘The Plot.’ Baser’s vocals float on the breeze, light and controlled, before landing on a beat that begs to be hummed. The swing is similar to Winehouse’s ‘Valerie’ while the songwriting is her own distinct brand of buoyant optimism. Baser could change the shape of your heart with her vocals. Her pivot from the exasperated, growling introduction to shimmying Vegas bar is masterful. An effortless conductor of spirit.

Spirit also happens to be the key ingredient to the sugary slander of ‘Pretty Boys.’ A track about breaking the dating cycle from hell that plays out like an excerpt from a girls group chat or a cheer squad chant. Relatable and spectacularly smart, it captured well-deserved attention online and catapulted Baser to a new level of stardom. A kind of poetic justice for every night spent with someone who “looked so pretty but had nothing in their head.”

Few acts could manage being so playfully provocative and simultaneously profound in the way that Baser does on both ‘Bicker’ and ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once.’ The former teases the juvenile excitement of arguing, “let’s forget the talking, who can scream the loudest, throw away the logic, walk away the proudest,” while the latter speaks to the pull of the one person that pushed you too far. It’s a crystalised look at unhealthy relationships over synths that flicker and burst. Exquisite.

Elsewhere on the record, ‘Oh Well’ feels as though it was recorded in Baser’s own head. Impressive harmonies soar over a quivering beat as if to imitate a sudden rush of blood to the heart. When paired with the self-love anthem ‘Choose Me,’ it sounds like a lifeline.

There’s no right way to end an album that was always simply searching, but ‘I’ll Be Here For You’ comes as close as it can. With a gospel intensity, Baser trills about playing the big sister with vocals that run like a swiped tear. I imagine if you could curl up in your own palms this is the song you’d play as you settled down. Her concluding thought: ‘you got me, and I got you.’

In this moment, it’s impossible to tell whether she’s talking to the listener or herself.

On this record and for the foreseeable, Caity Baser is learning. She doesn’t have all the answers yet – but she’s made something to whistle while she works.

Caity Baser: Still Learning – Out 12th March 2024 (EMI Records/Chosen Music)

Baser – Pretty Boys (youtube.com)