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2021 pop has a thing for drivers’ licenses. “I am twenty, and probably upset right now / I still haven’t got my driver’s licence” opens the first (and title) track to Maisie Peters’ debut album You Signed Up For This. It’s an apt coming-of-age symbol – mobility, and therefore independence – for an impeccable coming-of-age album. Through witty lyricism and addictive, synth-driven pop, Maisie Peters charts first loves and devastating heartbreaks, leaning into the universality of these concepts whilst maintaining her personal appeal.

The second track, “I’m Trying (Not Friends)”, encapsulates the album’s messy kaleidoscope of emotions, always in the superlative: “I was so in love”, then “I hate her guts”, then “you’re awful and I miss you and I killed you in my dream” (and this is just one of four tracks with a teen penchant for murdering an ex – see “Volcano”, “John Hughes Movie”, “Villain”). The lyricism is fast and sharp, packed with mic-drop one liners (“so many blank slates I could build a whole fucking house”) that are dying to be performed live.

“lyrical references to Skins, French exchanges, and HMV evoke a particularly British teen nostalgia”

The influence of narrative pop, in particular Taylor Swift, infuses the album, and is particularly evident in “Outdoor Pool”, “Villain”, and “Elvis Song”. “Outdoor Pool” follows a crush at 15, on the “first boy with a driver’s licence”, directly inspired by “Betty” on Taylor Swift’s folklore. In contrast to homerooms and high schools, however, Peters’ lyrical references to Skins, French exchanges, and HMV evoke a particularly British teen nostalgia, and it’s a perfect capture of the emotional rollercoaster of first loves: “this is the worst day of my life but it’s all good”.

Peters intentionally wanted to make the lyrics of "Outdoor Pool" sound "super British"

Progressing from the raw heartbreak at the beginning of the album, You Signed Up For This tentatively moves through degrees of emotional maturity. The fifth track, “Love Him I Don’t”, is both vulnerable and firm in its intent to stop loving someone when “loving him hurts / loving him don’t work”. “Villain” remains raw in its sadness, but experiments with perspective, asking what it means to be the villain of someone else’s love story.

Although romance remains the dominant tone of the album, one standout track is “Brooklyn”, which recounts a trip to New York with Peters’ twin sister, Ellen. With an accompanying music video comprised of home footage from their childhood, it is a touching tribute to a relationship rarely celebrated in pop music. “What happened in Harlem? / Don’t even ask us”, she teases. As a young female artist writing about coming-of-age and heartbreak, much of her album is assumed to be directly personal. Although “Brooklyn” fulfils this in some ways, Peters nevertheless retains a level of privacy and intimacy whilst singing in-jokes to festival crowds.

Current single "Brooklyn" is a loving ode to her twin

The piano-driven closing track, “Tough Act”, acknowledges that although a relationship has rightfully ended, it will nevertheless be “one tough act to follow”. Amidst a litany of hurt and outraged breakup albums, Peters captures the bittersweet duality of caring about a partner, yet accepting that breaking up was the right thing to do. The pop-leaning older sister of a previous single, “Favourite Ex”, it asks what happens when you’re neither the man character nor the villain, because life isn’t actually a John Hughes Movie.


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By the end of the album, Maisie Peters has moved through lovesickness, regret, anger, confusion, and hints at the growth found in deserving better and taking ownership of your own actions. The essence of the album, however, doesn’t care for resolution. It spotlights the adolescent chaos of doing your best and messing up and trying again and ending up heartbroken, but, like, you didn’t even care that much anyway.

Such coming-of-age emotions are well-documented, but You Signed Up For This powerfully evokes how they are felt with a knife’s edge every first time. For other artists, such a debut album may indeed be a tough act to follow. For Maisie Peters, this is just the beginning.