British alt-pop star Dylan confronts heartbreak in ‘The Greatest Thing I’ll Never Learn’
The Island Records UK/Republic Records signee explains how the journey of love is never simple in her latest mixtape.
Nov 17, 2022
Fresh off of Ed Sheeran’s UK tour, upcoming British alt-pop artist Dylan released her latest mixtape, “The Greatest Thing I’ll Never Learn,” on Oct. 28. The eight-track mixtape follows the self-proclaimed “rockstar stuck in a pop star’s body” as she traverses through the messiness of love. With guitar riffs and anthemic choruses, “The Greatest Thing I’ll Never Learn,” leaves listeners eager to hear the songs performed live.
At an °1824 conference, Dylan described the meaning behind the mixtape: “The title of the mixtape came from something my mum used to say to me a lot which is ‘the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return’ and as a 22-year-old [with a] weird and incredibly chaotic personal life and not having much control over anything, that is something that I have struggled with massively,” Dylan said. “The whole mixtape is just about… sort of learning or rather not learning how to deal with feelings and emotions.”
Dylan combines pop-punk and pop-rock tunes with elements of alternative, using the lack of control as an outlet to explain the emotional struggle of people entering and leaving your life whenever they want. Thus, the mixtape finds itself to be the perfect juxtaposition of “slightly sarcastic, chaotic and humorous” while “still having all the hugely deep emotions in there,” according to her.
The opening track “Girl Of Your Dreams” starts with an electric guitar and builds to heavy pop-punk supercharged sounds. Dylan presents herself as a blank slate to draw the perfect girlfriend upon — “I can be what you want, I can be what you need / Anytime that you like, be whatever you please / I can be the girl of your dreams.” The song, filled with layered vocal harmonies, feels like a drunken confession to meet her lover’s expectations — but then comes the contrasting dose of reality and chaos of young love in “Nothing Lasts Forever.”
The second track leans into fun pop sounds that are made to dance to, as Dylan herself does in its music video. In “Nothing Lasts Forever,” Dylan grapples with the realization that relationships are as impermanent as life. She sings, “Don’t be so dramatic come on get it together / When you gonna figure out that nothing / Ever lasts forever, forever, forever.” This is where the uniqueness of Dylan’s writing flourishes, as she takes tumultuous moments from her life and converts them into fun upbeat songs that make the reality of her lyrics more relatable.
“Blue” was made to give you space to grieve, understand and overcome heartbreak as the soft pop-rock ballad echoes, “Are you still in love? Have you had enough? / Of being apart and forcing a spark.” It gives space for Dylan’s songwriting to shine bright as she dives deep into grief and the desperation to keep the spark alive.
“Lovestruck” is an electric-guitar heavy pop explosion that details the desperation to get over the toxicity of a broken connection she wanted to keep alive in “Blue.” It is almost like a spark of realization within the turmoil that pushes toward understanding the “Blisters” emerging from holding onto a barely present lover. Heartbreaking to its core and the perfect soundtrack for the conflicting moment in a romantic comedy — which is what Dylan imagines her mixtape to be — “Blisters” narrates “the story of someone wearing you down so slowly that you don’t really recognize how much pain you’re in,” according to the rising star. It places her in a space to be introspective about her own actions and thoughts in “Treat You Bad” — “I’m complicated / Self-deprecating / I’m tired of waiting on me / To fall for someone like you.”
“The Greatest Thing” finds its roots in pop-punk tunes whose somber lyrics stand in complete contradiction to the song title. Here, Dylan explores how her previous relationships have filled her with doubt — “Sticks and stones, they broke my bones / all the words they hurt me / Stitched myself a perfect world where I’m forever lonely.” Lyrically, it presents the best transition to the acoustic ballad “Home Is Where the Heart Is.” The song is a beautiful ending to a mixtape that explodes in its sounds and lyrics all the same. The concluding track is heartbreaking as it traverses the uncertainty attached to the need of wanting to feel loved and accepted.
“The Greatest Thing I’ll Never Learn” delves into a range of emotions, but the beauty of the album lies in finding equal spaces of fun and heartache throughout.
“All of my songs, I write to play live,” Dylan said. “That’s the one thing that is consistent through all of my writing is as I’m writing it, I imagine how it would sound or where it would sit in the set live.”
The record just makes you want to bop your head, wave your hands and scream the pain away. Thankfully, Dylan is coming to open for Ed Sheeran on the U.S. leg of his tour in 2023 — so you’ll have a chance to see her guitar stabs live and immerse yourself in the heartbreakingly chaotic and fun record.
As Dylan says, “I feel like I’m only just scratching the surface on the whole Dylan world… I feel like I’ve just got through the start-gate now with who I want to be and the music that I want to write.”
This climb to the top for Dylan seems to be one to follow as she appears to be an act who will sell out London’s Wembley Stadium in the future.
Contact Paree Chopra at [email protected]