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LIZ's Just Like You is a throwback to the 2000s

Sometimes the best or most interesting releases of the year fly under the radar. In The Catch Up, we shine a light on the films and albums we missed at first glance.

The 2000s revival has already begun. Look at the mess of millennial signifiers that is LIZ – LIZ_Y2K if you're nasty – and you might see a snake eating herself, BuzzFeed in human form. The one no-frills popstar on Diplo's Mad Decent label, LIZ's brand of throwback pop comes from an alternate universe where Beyoncé got less famous, and Craig David was the most influential popstar of his generation. And like a true millennial, LIZ's debut EP comes as a free download, framed by SoundCloud embeds in a Google image search.

But the thing is, that turn-of-the-century R&B/dance/garage/teen-pop fusion was never fully explored in the first place. Today's EDM celebrates itself with brick walls of 4/4, but the 2-step of 15 years ago was daringly offbeat. Dance music was rarely ever harder to dance to. The real reason LIZ trades in Y2K pop – Destiny's Child, not Beyoncé – is that it was the last era when popstars didn't have to be divas.

Pop is inherently romanticist, all life-or-death emotion, but more than anything, LIZ embodies the uncertainty of youth. Her voice is equally coy and weary, her lyrics the breakup and first date at the same time. Even when she does find love, on “All Them Boys”, it's still set to minor chords and a nervous, skittering pulse. Don't let the girlishness fool you: this is no guilty pleasure. And yet, it's no less bubblegum than Britney ever was. “My loneliness is killing me.” Fuck contentment; desire is so much more interesting. Like being gently smothered to death by marshmallow, Just Like You is the perfect soundtrack for every kind of quarter-life existential crisis.

Even at an unassuming 26 minutes, Just Like You is already one of 2014's best pop records. Behind LIZ's coquettish voice is an assurance beyond her years. Where even veteran artists struggle to define their sound, LIZ pulls twelve producers – on only seven tracks! – entirely into her spin. Pharrell already wrote her a song that, amusingly, has nothing on this material. 2013's "Hush", a total rainbows-and-unicorns burst of joy, isn't even on here. Don't believe the hype: LIZ is even better. The Sailor Moon of R&B is here.

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