Release Date: June 16, 2023
Genre: Alt-Pop, Indie Rock, Pop Rock Label: Hopeless Records Zephani Jong, better known as Zeph, is ready to make her mark on the alt-pop scene with her highly anticipated debut album, Character Development. This eleven-track offering showcases Zeph's unique musical style and serves as a testament to her growth as an artist and as a person. With a blend of alt-pop, pop punk, hyper-pop, and indie influences, Zeph presents a refreshing sound that sets her apart from her contemporaries.
The album kicks off with a bang with, "you don't like me like that," a guitar-driven pop-punk anthem that sets the energetic tone for what's to come. Zeph's powerful vocals and relatable lyrics about unrequited love make this track an instant favourite. She continues to explore different sonic territories with "like everyone else," a bass-heavy hyper-pop gem that showcases her knack for infectious melodies and catchy synth hooks.
"sorry i'm not" takes a blissful indie turn, enveloping listeners in a dreamy soundscape where Zeph's soft and sultry vocals shine. The track's earworm chorus leaves a lasting impression. "game" offers a more subdued atmosphere, allowing Zeph to showcase her emotive side while the powerful distorted guitars add another layer of depth to the song.
In "backseat," Zeph channels her inner Billie Eilish, delivering a vulnerable and heartfelt track. The song's indie-pop vibe transitions seamlessly into an emotional exploration of Zeph's vulnerability. The title track, "character development," stands out with its upbeat pop punk-inspired sound, driven by power chords, punchy drums, and melodic guitar licks. However, the mixing occasionally overwhelms Zeph's vocals, slightly detracting from the overall impact of the track.
"walls" surprises with its acoustic guitar-driven simplicity, yet it carries an undeniable sadness in its short fifty-five-second duration. Zeph's heartfelt delivery will certainly leave listeners longing for an extended version. "say it first" slows down the pace once again, allowing Zeph's soft and sultry signature vocal style to take center stage once more.
Zeph's love for her best friend takes the spotlight in "my best friend," a playful bass guitar-led number that showcases her versatility. The shorter tracks on the album, such as "until i leave," captivate with their fast-paced alt-pop sound, combining lo-fi beats and striking synth lines to create an instant hook for listeners.
The album closes with "i'm sorry for wasting your time," a poignant piano ballad that tugs at the heartstrings. Zeph's vulnerability shines through as she shares her experience of heartbreak, leaving a lasting impact on the listener. The song serves as a testament to Zeph's ability to convey raw emotion effortlessly.
Character Development presents Zeph as a new and exhilarating voice in the alt-pop world. Her unique blend of genres and influences adds a fresh originality to her songwriting. While there are moments where the mixing could be improved to better highlight Zeph's vocals, the album as a whole showcases her talent and potential for a promising and lasting career in the industry. With her debut release, Zeph proves that she is a force to be reckoned with and an artist worth keeping an eye on.