Alexander 23 — yes, he’s called Alexander; no, he’s not 23 years old — looks every inch the typical TikTok singer-songwriter. Perpetually clad in some kind of a hoodie in most of his promo pictures, he looks at you behind a sleeve with a soft, piercing gaze, but when he speaks, he has the same cadence and surprising ease as an old friend. Authenticity is, after all, paramount in his work: he would have felt uncomfortable with a persona, but equally so with just “Alexander Glantz”. He settled with Alexander 23, only letting himself attach the day of his birthday to his given name. Rather bluntly, he admits that if he weren’t doing music, he’d be doing rocket science. He can’t think of any secrets to tell, because he’s already shared them with his fans. And, most telling of all, he’s achieved success in both the spaces of indie and punk, crossing over with both his marked folk sensibilities and calm, wide-eyed candor.
The process for writing Oh No, Not Again, was an unusual one, especially in the paradox of his debut singles’ ramping success in the onset of a pandemic. “There’s a pendulum aspect to it,” Glantz says, thoughtfully — “you go all the way one way, then all the way the other way.” So, in contrast to his previous bevy of love songs, he drew inspiration from the trials and hardships of romance; he set out to write an EP out of a need of cohesion, because he realized that “these songs really belong together in a way.” The work centers exclusively around the “lifespan of a relationship”, beginning with the rising onset of the moment-of-falling-in-love title track, the massive TikTok hit “IDK You Yet”. It rises in a subtle exuberance, pummelling beneath Glantz’s gentle voice as he repeats the mantra: “I need you now, but I don’t know you yet.” You can read the rest of the EP as a sweeping continuation of that already tenuous love story: the hopeful “IDK You Yet” immediately transitions into “Cry Over Boys”, where Glantz finally directs his gaze to the subject of his affection herself. “What’s the point in dressing up to be let down?” he asks, in the colourfully lit video, leaving with the eerie sense of a strained, one-sided relationship. The quiet tension continues on “Nothing’s the Same”, a lamentation of a duet with fellow viral songwriter Jeremy Zucker, as they conjure up images of a suburban melancholia (“Nothing’s the same as it was before / Lost track of time at the grocery storе”).
When you consider the finale of this story, you’re driven to remember the authenticity that drives the EP as a whole. Above all, Alexander values the emotional aspect of his deeply personal image, intertwining it deeply and unapologetically with what passes for his public persona. When asked what the most important thing in his music is, he answers: “that there’s another real human that feels the same way you do.” The ideal is reflected in his lyrics, in this aptly titled “Track 9”, a subtle reflection of his own simply stated name. “We’ll find the peace we’re missing in the missing pieces,” Glantz assures you, even at the end of this long and foretold separation, and still — even in the debris — he leaves you with the same reassurance he’s promised since the beginning.