The track list of Melanie Martinez's debut suggests a family-friendly album from the Voice alum, but to say that titles "Sippy Cup," "Milk and Cookies" and "Carousel" act as red herrings would be an understatement. Cry Baby is a concept record featuring Martinez subversively flipping the kiddie themes of her song names in explicit tracks about broken families, disingenuous romance and emotional abuse.
Martinez is clearly cribbing from the dimly lit pop stylings of Lorde and Lana Del Rey, but while her wispy delivery strikes the same femme fatale poses, she lacks the subtlety of her influences. On "Dollhouse," lines like "Mom, please wake up/Dad's with a slut/And your son is smoking cannabis" overshadow the intriguingly cavernous arrangement. The oppressively dark "Tag, You're It" details a sexual assault, where Martinez plays her own attacker by using a distracting mixing technique. Cry Baby shows that Martinez is admirably ambitious, but her insistence on sticking to the album's central idea leaves her contorting into uncomfortable positions.