A quick search of the name “Elliot Fullam” on TikTok pulls up an account consisting of an 18-year-old, idiosyncratic music fan. With 193 thousand followers, over 4 million likes, and videos that garner tens of thousands of views each on TikTok alone, it’s clear to see that the internet loves the New Jersey-based creator. Numbers barely scratch the surface, however, as a dive into Fullam’s fanbase reveals the true adoration they had for him.
On Sept. 2, Fullam released his debut album, What’s Wrong— and fans are already fiending for more. Scrolling through the TikTok videos under the album’s song “I’m So Happy” reveals the admiration many have for the singer/songwriter, who made his start as an actor in Terrifier 2.
Though not widely known for his acting career, he’s becoming a viral indie music sensation. TikTok user @chickendelicious deems that Fullam is “rapidly becoming the once-in-a-lifetime softcore/indie voice of a generation,” while user @brockwell55 advocates for Fullam by saying that he “just unironically…became the best artist I’ve ever heard from TikTok.” An even deeper dive into the album itself shows how much truth these comments hold.
Running barely over 30 minutes, What’s Wrong is not so much a question as it is a statement—themes of loneliness, cynicism, and melancholia are immensely present in and the driving force behind much of the album’s lyricism. The opener, “Dolonia,” sets the tone for what follows by repeatedly questioning as to why someone would enjoy the speaker’s presence, and a song later, “You’ll See My Ghost” ruminates on personal resentment and embarrassment.
The track “Won’t Go My Way” intensifies the pervading sense of hopelessness as Fullam sings: “I don’t know you, I don’t know anything/Needless to say, it won’t go my way.” Even the TikTok viral “I’m So Happy” (with over 400 thousand streams on Spotify) cannot claim itself as being a cheerful song, as the repeated chorus of “You see old friends/I see acquaintances” pervades much of the song’s runtime and brings forth feelings of isolation.
Musically, there is an obvious influence of 90s alternative rock—the bass-driven “I’m So Happy,” as well as the titular song “What’s Wrong,” emulate the calmer parts of Nirvana’s iconic song “Come As You Are.” Fullam’s gentle vocals throughout the album mimic one of his own personal favorite artists of the same forename, Elliot Smith.
Other than a few instances in the album where a handful of instruments are present at once, Fullam relies heavily on simple acoustic guitar, like that of Smith, which subsequently causes the more instrumentally complex songs to stand out.
Although the album is impressive regarding its level of independent production—songs are recorded in Fullam’s bedroom and then produced by Alan Douches of West West Side Music—value is practically nonexistent in regard to its live show playability. The songs, while perfectly encapsulating softcore indie, lack tempo and style variation. They’d be quick to bore in a concert setting and limit themselves to small venues or studio sessions. Besides being a soothing and cathartic listen on a rainy day , there isn’t much replay value either.
The songs, though decent standing alone, tend to blend into each other and lack diversity among themselves. Rather than a collection of similarly themed songs with their own distinct flavor (take the difference in vibes between Taylor Swift’s albums, for instance), each song contributes individually to the album’s being its own cohesive unit. What’s Wrong moreso runs as one longer song broken up into 11 two-minute, bite-size pieces.
Overall, the album falls shy of earning the title of being “musically genius,” but still holds musical merit within the softcore indie genre. Due to positive public response, however, it is safe to assume that Fullam will release music in the future, and anticipation lies in what direction the budding musician will take his music next.