Critiquing Albums Like I Could Make Anything Better: Positive Spin by Gretta Ray

This post is part 18 of 19 in the series:
Critiquing Albums Like I Could Make Anything Better

At my best, I’d describe myself foremost, as an optimist. At my absolute worst, I’d describe myself as someone who is stubbornly, unmovingly, sometimes detrimentally dedicated to feeding my optimism. But we’re existing in a time in culture where there’s a lot to complain about. It’s expected, facilitated and encouraged to express our collective disappointment at the state of things as young people right now. Here on her second album, Gretta Ray grapples honourably with the perils of being young, full of self doubt, and nonetheless hopeful. She sings to herself on every track, and without fail, she is on her own side. By extension, it feels like she’s on ours as well. In the wake of Lorde’s reluctantly welcomed Solar Power era, I’m so glad Gretta Ray has put this record into the world right when she has. In a word, it’s so good. It sacrifices no nuance for its buckets of sunshine, and I love it. Anyway, on to the tracklist!

Spotify: Positive Spin – Gretta Ray


Positive Spin

I love when the title track is also the intro on an album. It’s such a concise way to kick things off. Right from the jump, you know what this record will be like. I could do anything with this album on. It’s so motivating and encouraging to a wider early 20s audience, despite so clearly being written by Ray to Ray. I love it lyrically, “easily the coolest you’ve ever been” made me feel so good the first time I heard it.

Won't stop until I've won, but keep moving the goalposts
So nothing that I've done feels good enough, but maybe almost
Well I may never be Joni, but singing my truth's holy
And all the more inspiring, when seeking out the silver lining


This makes me want to run. The beat is steady and energetic in the best way. The way she sings “Honey-Blonde Australian” is so satisfying, as are all the songs she sings with her elegant pronounced voice. It literally sounds like how moving on from a tough time feels. The detailed storytelling balances out the albeit very warranted bragging. It reminds me of Sabrina Carpenter’s recent Eras Tour hit ‘Feather’.

Three years this august, since the day our love was discarded
Picture me stick-thin, sitting in a restaurant
With a coward who couldn't call it
Sushi on Smith Street, was debuting a new pair of flare jeans
When I spoke the words that you wouldn't say aloud
But you were clearly thinking in each given moment

Nobody Here

This was my favourite track on my first listen. You can just imagine yourself at the party in question. Her story telling has always been incredible, but this record feels so concise and vivid in a new way.

And I guess it is best that we're friends, cause lovers fuck with each other's heads
And I could use a break from that, been through it and won't look back
But here I am now out at this party thinking about you
In a way I really didn't plan to

Heartbreak Baby

This one feels like an ode to Taylor Swift differently than Gretta’s sharp lyricism and classic pop production does. The synth makes the song what it is, and I like that. It’s not my favourite song on this record but I think that is because I’ve listened to it too many times on TikTok. I love the Grease theme in the video though.

YouTube: Gretta Ray – Heartbreak Baby (Official Video)

Dear Seventeen

I saw Ray working tirelessly on TikTok to promote this song, and it excited me from the first snippet. “Screw you and that good song you wrote” – I love that good song she wrote. It’s so refreshing to see artists who are unafraid to be vulnerable in a self-directed and detailed way, instead of staying vague to cater t a large audience. When you’re talking with your friends, you each tell stories about yourselves and compare experiences. That’s what this album feels like at some points.

Dear seventeen, we made the album and it did pretty well
And you best believe the writer's block subsides, there are too many tales to tell
You see the world, you make this last, you share your craft with new creators
Your best friends stick around, your sister's proud, and have no doubt you're still obsessed with Taylor
Baby, I've got your back

Don’t Date The Teenager

This is peak pop music. It’s undoubtably a track off the back of a well of recent releases on the topic of age difference in relationships. I’m looking at the heavily anticipated re-release of Taylor Swift’s Red, Demi Lovato’s 29, Olivia Rodrigo’s Vampire… the list goes on. Aside from the topic of the lyrics, it does what pop music does best – explores something universal with a great beat behind it. It creates empathy and makes it fun. Also, she re-used the lyric ‘best thing in the worst way’ from her break out hit Drive, which was smooth.

YouTube: Gretta Ray – Don’t Date The Teenager

Loving Somebody

I want The Japanese House to cover this song. It’s not my favourite song on this album, but it would have been when I was younger. That’s all I have to say, really.

The Cool Boy

I love when she sings in her lower register. This song is such a journey. The bridge has that Taylor Swift bridge effect going on. The uptick in the last part of the song would be so great to see live.

Thought I'd get out unscathed, my integrity saved
Not succumb to my rage, I should've known it
Cool boy's gonna blow it either way
When you think of me now, when you say my name out loud
Does it sound like your regrets, your missed chances or questions unanswered?

Can’t Keep It Casual

I love the pre-chorus. I remember her promoting it on TikTok. It feels like a bit of a call back to older Gretta Ray songs. I love the choir style vocals near the end and I’m a fool for a silly giggle in a song. So this scratches an itch, to say the least.

Ooh, I know it's cool
To only want love in portions
But when I proceed with caution
He's all I can see
The longer I stay I'm fragile
When you wanna keep it casual

You’ve Already Won

I think, in our teenage years, we spend a lot of time carving out meaning – creating complication to explore. In our twenties, I’ve found a lot of my friends are just trying to enjoy simple things. That is something that underpinned this entire record, but it’s particularly pronounced here. My Dad sent this to me when it came out, and to be honest it felt personal. It’s one of my most listened to songs at the moment. It’s such a clever layout for a song. An extensive list of things that go into her personhood. Appreciating small precious things. It’s nostalgic and exciting in its production, which makes sense for the song. I can’t imagine it sounding any other way. It puts me in a good mood.

Dress-ups and dinner parties, backyards and sunburnt bodies
James Taylor vinyls and pot plants and putting off your studies
Cheese boards and blow-up pools, feminist articles
Boyfriends and tattoos and scented expensive candles
Long roads and rugged coastlines, DNM's over a white wine
Sleep-ins and beach trips and losing myself in my mind

Light On

This is a favourite as well. What ever happened to a good old love song? Perfect. The storytelling is second to none. It’s like a short story with a dreamy beat. I want to say more about this song, but I just like it a lot and that’s all there is to it.

Leave the light on, I've thought this one through
Trust looks nice on me around you
Like a fitted dress and knee-high boots
A button-up shirt, midnight blue
Like how I look good on you
I know you think it too

America Forever

This was a brave song to put out, as an Australian. It’s no secret that most of our nation holds a special place in our raging hearts for unchecked hatred of America. It makes sense as a closing track, but I hope she’s lying about staying there. Come home, the kids (me) miss you. The dreamy production helps make this a very touching track, even though it is about America. It’s also cool that Maisie Peters is here.

YouTube: Gretta Ray – America Forever (with Maisie Peters & Carol Ades)

Track Ranking

  1. You’ve Already Won
  2. Light On
  3. Can’t Keep It Casual
  4. Nobody Here
  5. Positive Spin
  6. Dear Seventeen
  7. Don’t Date The Teenager
  8. The Cool Boy
  9. Upgraded
  10. America Forever
  11. Heartbreak Baby
  12. Loving Somebody

Series: Critiquing Albums Like I Could Make Anything Better