Album Review: Ingrid Michaelson, ‘It Doesn’t Have To Make Sense’

Written by Chris Panico


It’s been two years since Ingrid Michaelson released Lights Out, arguably her aruably most popular record. It brought some of her best work to the table with powerful pop tunes like ‘Girls Chase Boys’ and ‘Time Machine’. Now Ingrid comes back with It Doesn’t have to Make Sense, channeling her unique, slightly-out-the-box songwriting and filtering it through new idioms, forms, and trends.

Many people have heard the album’s first single ‘Hell No’ by now. The track itself shoulders the role of lead single very well, checking off all the typical criteria: catchy melody, danceable groove, anthemic chorus, etc. While being a fun, energetic song, ‘Hell No’ does miss the mark a little bit as far as standing out from similar tunes like Taylor Swift’s 2012 hit ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.’

Luckily for us listeners, there are a few exceptionally great songs on the record. Not surprisingly, Ingrid Michaelson knocks her soft, piano-centric ballads out of the park. ‘I Remember Her’ is a one of the most gripping tunes on the entire album. It uses stunning imagistic lyrics to tell the story of losing a loved one and dealing with everything that comes with that. Michaelsons vocal performance is perfectly crafted for this tune where she allows her vulnerable falsetto to wonderfully shade her words.

‘Drink Her Gone’ directly follows, carrying listeners further into the realm of hurting-so-good that Ingrid is so amazing with. Her best lyrics on the album shine through on this one:

“I can’t drink you gone
I can’t smoke you out
I can’t eat away the way that you ate my heart out
LIke a sinking ship
While the band plays on
When I dream you’re there
I can’t even sleep you gone
How do broken hearts get strong
Tell me how do broken hearts get strong”

While Ingrid delivers a few undeniably great songs on this record, she also brings a whole lot that just don’t quite measure up. The issue here is not that any of the songs on It Doesn’t Have to Make Sense are bad. None of them are. However, many of them hit that ‘just good enough’ threshold without managing to leap up to being great. The first three tracks are all great examples of this, with some of them leaning on far too many sentiment-based lyrics, and others falling a little too much into the typical pop-anthem subcategory.

Overall, It Doesn’t Have To Make Sense is solid. Great production value, interesting arrangements, and a few particularly great songs all contribute to its formidability as a modern pop release. Unfortunately, it rarely surpasses the standard set by its peers and ultimately doesn’t quite measure up to some of Ingrid’s past phenoms.

Rating: 6 out of 10

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  1. Disagree. “Light Me Up” gave me chills and that hasn’t happened in like 15 years. Her voice is amazing.

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