Melanie Martinez’s Portals: A Deep Dive into the Otherworldly Journey

by Alex Harris

2nd September, 2023

Melanie Martinez’s Portals: A Deep Dive into the Otherworldly Journey

Melanie Martinez, the avant-garde American singer-songwriter, has once again pushed the boundaries of music and storytelling with her third studio album, Portals. Released on March 31, 2023, through Atlantic Records, Portals is not just an album—it’s an experience that invites listeners to explore different dimensions and realities.

Background and Release

After the cinematic journey of K–12 in 2019, Martinez released an EP called After School in 2020, which was a continuation of the K–12 storyline. She then took a hiatus, only to return with a fresh, creature-like alter-ego. This transformation was not just aesthetic; it signaled a profound evolution in her music and narrative.

The anticipation was palpable, with cryptic Instagram posts and Spotify snippets teasing a world of rebirth and transformation. One teaser, in particular, showed Martinez hatching from an egg as a pink fairy creature, symbolizing rebirth and new beginnings. The album was also accompanied by a feature film of the same name, directed by Martinez herself, which expands on the album’s narrative and visuals.

Melanie Martinez Portals album cover
Melanie Martinez Portals album cover

Tracklist and Interpretation

Death: This song is the first single and the opening track of the album. It introduces Martinez’s alter-ego, Cry Baby, who dies in a car crash and enters a portal to another world. The song explores the fear and acceptance of death, as well as the possibility of reincarnation.

Void: This song is the second single and the second track of the album. It follows Cry Baby’s journey through the void, where she encounters different versions of herself from different lives. The song reflects on the emptiness and loneliness that many people feel in their existence, and the desire to find meaning and purpose.

Tunnel Vision: This track reintroduces Martinez’s alter-ego, Cry Baby, and her journey through life and death. Lyrics like “Life is death is life is death” emphasise the cyclical nature of existence.

Faerie Soirée and Light Shower: Both songs delve deep into themes of toxic relationships, with Martinez’s ethereal voice painting a picture of love, loss, and longing.

Spider Web: A commentary on social media addiction, the song uses spider imagery to depict the entrapment many feel in the digital age. “Caught in the web, likes are my oxygen,” she sings, highlighting the dependency on validation.

Leeches: A ballad that touches on superficial relationships, where people latch on for personal gain.

Battle of the Larynx: A powerful track where Martinez addresses allegations made against her, blending rock music elements with her signature sound.

The Contortionist: A personal and emotional track, where Martinez sings about her struggle with self-acceptance and self-love. She uses circus imagery to convey the idea of putting on a show for others, while hiding her true feelings and identity. The song reflects on the pressure and pain of twisting and contorting oneself to fit into other people’s expectations and standards.

Moon Cycle: A cheeky response to Oliver Tree, this song showcases Martinez’s playful yet pointed songwriting.

Nymphology: Drawing parallels between nymphs in Greek mythology and the music industry’s treatment of artists, Martinez critiques how the industry often boxes artists, using them for gain.

Evil: A standout track, Evil delves into the realisation of being in a toxic relationship, with Martinez singing about empowerment and emotional manipulation.

Womb: Symbolizing Martinez’s musical rebirth, the song loops back to the phrase “Life is death is life is death,” emphasizing the album’s cyclical theme.

Promotion and Reception

Leading up to the album’s release, Martinez showcased several songs from Portals at various South American Lollapalooza festivals. Critics had mixed reviews, but fans were captivated. Tomás Mier of Rolling Stone lauded the album as “effortlessly inventive,” praising Martinez’s introspective lyrics and innovative sounds. Evening Standard also gave a positive review, calling the album “a masterclass in pop experimentation”.
Fans also expressed their admiration and support for Martinez’s creativity, originality, and maturity on various platforms such as Album of The Year.


Portals is more than just an album; it’s a testament to Melanie Martinez’s growth as an artist and storyteller. With its intricate blend of art pop, dark pop, and R&B, coupled with profound lyrics and a compelling narrative, Portals offers listeners an immersive experience into an otherworldly realm. Whether you’re a long-time fan or new to Martinez’s music, this album promises a journey like no other.

Previous post

Be the first and never miss an update!

2024 © All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy
  • facebook
  • twitter
  • instagram