Coping Mechanisms: A Welcome Twist on Modern Pop Music


Image by Rahul Yudav from Pixabay

 You may not have heard of Tayla Parx, but chances are you have heard (or at least heard of) one of her songs. After co-writing major pop hits, such as Ariana Grande’s “7 rings,” “thank unext,” and Panic at the Disco’s “High Hopes,” Parx is steadily building her solo career with her vibrant and unique sophomore album, Coping Mechanisms. 


Released in November of 2020, Coping Mechanisms is Parx’s second studio album with Atlantic RecordsThe album also includes an appearance from the musical group Tank and the Bangas on track eight, “Justified.”  


The first track of the album, “Sad,” opens with some soft and lo-fi instrumentalsinitially reminding me of a track from the Animal Crossing video game series. Ironically, the song’s delicate instrumentals contrast heavily with the song’s harsh lyrics, which describe very bitter and angry emotions surrounding the end of a relationship. Through strong lyrics, such as “…and you never gave me nothing but bulls**t / If stupid was worth a dollar you would be dumb rich, Parx gives listeners a preview of some of the album’s later themes of the struggles of being in love. 


The mysterious gods of the Spotify For You page recommend the next song of the album, “Dance Alone,” to me and I loved it immediately. This song exudes “main character” energy, featuring a nice bass guitar groove anwhimsical backing track. Parx’s voice blends beautifully with the song’s overall vibe, ensuring that the song’s chorus will be stuck in your head for several hours. While “Dance Alone” does fall under the pop genre with the rest of the albumits overall sound and energy is unique from most other pop songs, making it hands down the best song of the album. 


Sadly, the energy in “Dance Alone” does not carry throughout the rest of the album. Specifically, in tracks three and four, “System” and “Stare,” the whimsy and good feelings from “Dance Alone” is cut off by a more techno, club music sound. “Stare” sounds like what would be blasted out of a speaker at H&M as you sift through knockoff band T-shirts. 


A recurring theme throughout the album is very strong and catchy choruses accompanied by somewhat weak verses. One example of this is “Bricks,” the sixth track of the album. “Bricks” not only features a heavily edited, repetitive, and almost irritating chorus, but its lyrics throughout the chorus and the verses contain no real substance or purpose (other than to talk about stacks of money, which is not an uncommon theme in the modern pop and rap genres). 


However, some songs have more dimensional composition and lyrics or have equally balanced strength between the chorus and the verse. For instance, “Residue,” the seventh song of Coping Mechanisms, features a much more relaxed backing track with more mysterious and dark vocals. The lyrics have more meaning to themsuch as the line “Poison ivy of the heart / I’m tangled up in you / If I could figure where you start / Then I’d know what to do.” The lyrics and simple yet enchanting composition ultimately make the song more enjoyable and catchier than songs earlier in the album.  


At the end of the day, Coping Mechanisms has some definite hits as well as some definite flops, but overall, it is a great album for anyone who likes pop music with its own unique twist (especially for anyone who likes Ariana Grande). Coping Mechanisms earns a 3.5/5 stars from me, with the hope that in future projects Parx focuses more on her innovative approach to pop music rather than sticking with the usual pop music status quo.