Carlie Hanson Transforms a Suburban Life Into a Pop Dream in ‘Junk’ Debut EP

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Photo: Leeor Wild

I can count the number of artists who could likely nail my McDonald’s order and utterly enrapture me with a phenomenal collection of alternative pop songs with a single finger, because there is only one: Carlie Hanson. From working at a McDonald’s drive-thru in a small Wisconsin town to delivering an anthemic debut EP, this is the first chapter of a veritable pop star to be.

Junk is anything but its name, as Hanson made readily clear when speaking on her debut EP,

“These songs mean so much to me and have so much meaning to them, but I didn’t want the title of my EP to be something so thought out. I wanted it to be simple. Really each of these songs started out as a quick stupid melody I came up with in the shower, or while I was high, and just threw in my voice memos! Sometimes I’ll think of a concept and just quickly jot it down in my notebook.”

There is a universal relatability to be found in Hanson’s electrifying tales of teenage discovery and love, some lost and some gained. It is a testament to the 19-year-old’s suburbanite intrinsic gift for transforming nights of summer discontent into raw moments of pop-flavored magic that feel larger than life. Whether it be belting the lines “Even if there’s something to do/ I’d rather be bored with you” backed by an exhilarating barrage of electric guitars or crooning “Are you happy right now where you at, girl?/ Do you still get drunk when you’re sad, girl?,” during a poignant moment of reflection in “WYA,” there is a deeply personal edge to be found in Junk.

In many ways, with the release of Junk, Hanson carves out a unique niche for herself in the realm of pop. It is one informed by the pop mentality that a good chorus is one that simultaneously strikes your heart and gets stuck in your head for weeks to come, as well as the heart-racing inclinations of pop-punk. The next wave of pop belongs to Hanson, it is just up to her to see where she will take it.

Listen to Junk below:

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