Alice TM is the queer, artpop project of Alice Tolan-Mee, an artist straddling NY and LA. A dance conservatory dropout turned singer and composer, Alice TM bridges these two disciplines through her raucous, emotionally unhinged live performances, inhabiting a world between performance art and party.
On October 8, Alice TM released her debut full length album Little Body In Orbit with Whatever’s Clever. The album was created in collaboration with co-composer Tarpit, along with producer Ale Roubini, Alice’s ex partner and current partner, respectively. “I sang into Tarpit’s headphones about our breakup, and how good the sex is in my new relationship,” Alice remarks, “and coming out to my friends as gay, and the tenuous connection between mind and body.”
Little Body In Orbit is largely an examination of love: “Sticky love, tumbling and joyful love, slutty love, and violence in love,” Alice reflects. The album opens with “Generous,” the cathartic lead single and queer love anthem. “We be generous with love / it regenerates in love,” she sings in chorus with herself, over an addictive pop-corn beat and plucked synth. “I get to decide what love looks like; it gets to be what we make it, and the design is up to us.” Later, on “Arrival,” Alice returns to love after taking some space from it and finds that distance has given it a euphoric glow. On this track, Alice also explores how layers of memory and meaning pile up in certain revisited locations, and how her hometown is heavy with these piles; “We all carry houses on our backs, like turtles, shells intact, integrated, sturdy and protected.”
Throughout the album, Alice finds room for both confession and retreat. Her songs are stratospheric in this way, fueled by the pressure of holding in emotions that once weren’t allowed out. She embraces her queerness, releasing love that was once stifled and latent, and allows it to guide her as she navigates memories of anger, abuse, and fear, as well as sex, addiction, depression, and loneliness. Elsewhere, on songs such as “Marbles,” Alice explores her childhood, specifically, her father’s various wives. “As a child I was imprinted by these women; they are part of me, they are my story. They were forced on me and then stolen from me. But now I choose how to relate to their impact on me and how I experience their memory.”
The album closes with “Wedding,” an anti-love love-song. “What if I’m just flowing love into a vacuum? What if I’m using love as a weapon against the anger and hurt and abuse and neglect?” Alice asks. Her crystal soprano soars on this track, at times with no accompaniment. “I’m sticking around because I know no alternative. It’s the inertia of enough; I stay, I stay, I stay.”
Little Body In Orbit represents an arrival and a departure for an exciting new artist who is continuing to define herself as she blooms. Comparisons can be made to Hundred Waters, Glasser, and Braids, but Alice’s exploration of artpop is rooted in her lifetime on stage and in the studio, punctuated by her personal tragedies, frictions, unique energy and lightness.
Light in All of It (ASREC0001)