Arts & Entertainment

ALBUM REVIEW: ‘Girl With No Face’ by Allie X

Synth-pop musician and visual artist Allie X creates a “goth inspired” avant-garde album that is perfect for a ghoul’s night out.

Just like that, another quarter has come and gone. Music festival season is also fast approaching, and artists are dropping albums left and right. I thought this was the perfect time for me to revisit an artist that I haven’t listened to for years now, but has recently dropped a new album. That artist is Allie X.  

Alexandra Ashley Hughes, also known as Allie X, is a Canadian singer, model and visual artist. Born in Oakville, Ontario, Allie spent the majority of her early life dedicated to the arts. She attended Etobicoke School of the Arts, a public arts high school. Soon after, she joined the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan where she pursued degrees in classical piano and vocals. She finalized her studies on a triumphant note by graduating from Sheridan College, a school known internationally for its art programs. Here, she was an active member of the Musical Theatre Performance program, and she graduated with a degree in musical theatre.  

Allie first began her professional music career in 2006, where she traveled around Toronto performing jazz, indie pop, indie rock and electronic music. She released her first demo album, “Waiting for the Prize,” while she was still in college. Allie went on to compete in reality TV shows and began her acting career through Canadian shows and movies. Her music was also featured in local Canadian movies such as “Saving Hope” and “Rookie Blue.”  

In 2013, Allie moved to Los Angeles and began creating under her current stage name, Allie X. It was during this time that she began teaching herself sound design and music production. She later applied that knowledge to her debut single under the Allie X name, “Catch.” Immediately, this single was met with vast praise. Time magazine described how the single “shines with a level of polish and craft that’s remarkable.” Katy Perry also commented on the song and labeled it her “spring jam.” This acclaim alongside the song’s addicting beat sky-rocketed the single to number 55 in the Canadian Top 100 the week of its release.  

“CollXtion I” – Allie X’s first EP under her new stage name – was released in early 2015. Once again, Allie received extremely positive reviews. Edmonton Journal’s Julia LeConte referred to it as “a smartly written seven-song EP that offers up a smorgasboard of indelible hooks.” Allie also took the opportunity during this packed year to co-write seven songs in Troye Sivan’s album “Blue Neighborhood.” She later joined him on tour and performed “CollXtion I” live for her growing fanbase.  

Ever since then, Allie X’s prestige has earned her popularity amongst alternative music and queer communities, especially those revolving around drag, ballroom and burlesque. Allie herself has openly advocated for these communities as well as feminist movements. From 2016 to 2020, Allie released two more studio albums: “CollXtion II” and “Cape God.” She also released one more EP titled “Super Sunset.” But most recently, Allie dropped a third studio album, “Girl With No Face”, which was released on February 23.  

I had stopped listening to Allie X’s music since 2020 as she had been on a bit of a hiatus since then. I was quite excited to hear that this new album focused its efforts on memorializing and showing appreciation towards the 80s goth genre. In interviews and social media advertisements, Allie X admitted to embracing an even darker sound for this next album. I took some extra time to listen to each song and put together my thoughts. 

Allie X posing with a broadsword for a “Girl With No Face” promotional photo shoot. @alliex via Instagram. Taken by @kaiocsr 

My verdict is simply this: it goes hard. It definitely has those slightly upbeat synth chords prevalent in 80s music. But Allie X seemed to wield her usual wispy voice like a blade; shiny and delicate yet sharp. The album’s opening song “Weird World” perfectly encapsulates this, alongside an accompaniment of moody lyrics. It reminded me of bands such as Pink Turns Blue and Depeche Mode. It was evident that Allie did her homework.  

“Galina” leans more towards 80s city pop. Extremely catchy, Allie X shows off more of her vocal prowess with some absolutely perfect falsettos. I particularly listened to this song during a late night drive in Seattle, and I would not recommend any other way to enjoy a first listen to this song. The bustling lights of the city seemed to be made for this album, but especially this song.  

Embracing the other extreme of this album, “Black Eye” uses extensive metaphors to describe the intensity with which someone wants to party hard. They want to be “hit by that super bass” because they want “tonight to hit [them] in the face.” The beat is a slightly darker electro pop, but still oh so danceable. Allie truly seemed to capture the essence of the alternative club culture here. I can truly see me and many of my friends dancing to this particular beat.  

Finally, “Staying Power” lives up to its name. A velvety black track, it’s probably one of my favorite songs in the album. The lyricism goes a bit deeper on this particular track, as it touches on the dissatisfaction of existing. Not being able to fit into a mold, and therefore causing disappointment in those that have set expectations of you: “I don’t have the face that makes your grandma want to smile. I don’t have the milk that makes me want to have a child. I don’t have the disposition for drinks with the girls. I don’t sing for straight me ‘cause they just ruin the world.” But the song still points at having the power despite social rejection.  

 Overall, this album was quite enjoyable. I definitely do think critics hit it right in the nose when describing it as a “goth inspired” work, and I can see why Allie X has recently been labeled as an electro-goth musician. It’s spooky, avant-garde, and exactly the kind of music I would enjoy dancing to at the club. If this sounds like something you’d enjoy as well, then I suggest you check out “Girl With No Face.” 

Allie X’s entire discography is out on all music streaming platforms.  

Alternate photo taken during the “Girl With No Face” album cover photo shoot. @alliex via Instagram. Taken by @marcuscooper