You think you’re special?

Earlier this year, we were pleasantly surprised by the concept album First Contact via Newcastle Upon Tyne trio AXLS (see TEC review previously). Taking on a science fiction concept approach, the album darted between crunchy synth work, percussive grooves and celestial pop as it explored an intriguing narrative about aliens taking over the planet.

One of the album’s undeniable strengths was the vocal talents of Victoria Owsnett. Her ability to change her style and approach to match the mood of the ever-changing story kept the whole album sharp and dynamic.

Owsnett has been writing and producing her own music since 2014, establishing AXLS in 2018. Drawn towards a definite electropop style, she’s crafted an ability for emotional energy in her compositions that really catches the listener’s attention.

In terms of influences, Owsnett has cited the likes of indie electro artist Lorde and the catchy pop of Fickle Friends as touchstones. But she’s happy to switch up genres as the occasion demands it (she’s previously covered the likes of Billie Eilish and Beyoncé on her YouTube channel).

‘Thrones’ marks her solo debut release and it’s a composition which manages to be both an airy pop outing as well as an edgier slice of synth-pop. The lyrics of ‘Thrones’ deal with social hierarchies, exploring the impact that they can have with those that are at the bottom of the popularity ladder. It delves into the curious mechanisms of cliques and tribes and how it can impact those outside the circle (“Not inviting losers to their parties/Walking round like God’s gift to the world”).

For those that found First Contact’s polished pop tunes appealing, ‘Thrones’ feels like a natural progression and marks a strong debut for Owsnett as a solo artist. Its slick synth melodies slide effortlessly underneath Owsnett’s mesmerising vocals.

But this release is only one part of Owsnett’s ambitions, with a focus on a number of collaborations in the future. This includes working with John John for the lo-fi pop of ‘Time Stands Still’. She’s also delved into a more soulful vocal for ‘Stranger’, marking a collaborative effort with pHeels.

‘Thrones’ is likely to surprise a few people with its subtly engaging melodic draw – and will also reinforce Victoria Owsnett as a talent to be reckoned with in the future.

‘Thrones’ is out now.