Gemma Cockrell and Kiah Tooke
Gemma and Kiah review a selection of single releases from the past week, involving the newest tracks from FINNEAS and Hayley Williams.
Ellise – Bubblegum Brain (Gemma):
Bubblegum Brain is the new single from Bay Area-born alternative pop star Ellise. It was released with an accompanying music video featuring drag superstar Shea Couleé, winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 5. The track is the first single from Ellise’s upcoming debut album, out later this spring, and her first for EMPIRE and SALXCO management.
“Bubblegum Brain probably has some of my favourite lyrics I’ve ever written,” says Ellise. “Sometimes I can go through something and the only thing I want to do is make a song about it. But other times, when things really mess me up, I need a while to process it. Once I feel like I’m out of the moment and I can see it for what it really was, I can write about it in a song and make it make sense to myself. Bubblegum Brain is closure in that regard.”
Bubblegum Brain, very fittingly, has a bubblegum pop sound, and the darker side of pop perfectly suits Ellise’s voice. After discovering Ellise’s music from features on Savage Ga$p’s and guccihighwaters’ albums, with this track being my first experience of her solo work, I am far from disappointed. The track, at only 2 minutes and 22 seconds, is an addictive listen which is near impossible not to put on repeat.
FINNEAS – American Cliché (Gemma):
American Cliché is perhaps FINNEAS’ most theatrical track to date. The single is much more upbeat than his recent releases, such as the ballad Where The Poison Is, a politically charged track about the Donald Trump administration. American Cliché has been part of the musician and producer’s live set for some time, but this is the first time that a studio version of the track has been recorded and officially released, due to pressure from fans.
”I now love the song and am wildly proud of it”
FINNEAS tweeted “American Cliché is out now and I just wanted you to know, your cyber bullying absolutely worked and is absolutely the only reason I went back to it and produced it. I now love the song and am wildly proud of it, but the only reason I worked on it was you. Bullying me.”
American Cliché is a flurry of big-band brass and musical inspired vocals, depicting nostalgic tales of love lost and European coffee shops. It is a larger-than-life track, and it sounds much bigger than anything FINNEAS has released under his own name before. It is a style which suits him incredibly well, and hopefully the fact that the track is already a fan favourite will convince him to continue making music in this style.
Hayley Williams – My Limb (Kiah):
American singer Hayley Williams surprised fans with the release of her sophomore solo album, ‘FLOWERS for VASES / descansos’, less than a year after her preceding album, ‘Petals For Armor’. My Limb is the second track on the album which Williams cleverly leaked a few days before the album’s release date. After leaving a candle and CD with My Limb burnt onto it at a fan’s house, Williams encouraged the song to be leaked to give fans a taste of what her second album would sound like.
My Limb follows similarly in the sound heard in ‘Petals for Armor’, breaking from her pop rock roots founded in Paramore and moving to a more softened sound, led by acoustic guitars and piano keys. However, in ‘FLOWERS for VASES / descansos’, Williams swaps the underlying anger for a more pensive reflection on the last few years of her life. The soft, subdued guitar melody paired with Williams’ gentle harmonies creates a mystical atmosphere within the song, with the repetition of “my limb” sounding like a mantra by the end of the song.
Impressively, the whole of ‘FLOWERS for VASES’ was recorded, written and performed in its entirety by Williams alone, again proving that her talents extend beyond her role as Paramore’s lead singer.
Julien Baker – Favor (Kiah):
Julien Baker has unveiled a new song, Favor, which sees her reunion with boygenius members Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, who sing backing vocals for this new song. This is her newest single from her upcoming album ‘Little Oblivion’, her third album and newest LP since 2017’s ‘Turn On The Lights’, which is set to be released in February 2021.
The lyrics of the song detail Baker’s experience of learning to trust again
The track features catchy guitar melodies and a layered drum beat that gives the song an absorbing backing, which lets up with Baker’s more vulnerable lyrics such as “How long do I have until I’ve spent up everyone’s goodwill?” The lyrics of the song detail Baker’s experience of learning to trust again and allowing yourself to be open to receiving help from friends.
When talking about Favor, Dacus said that “I love the song for its stark but sensitive picture of friendship, what it looks like to recover from broken trust.” The slower vocals contrast the faster backing melodies which makes the track an entrancing listen, and the layered vocals from Bridgers and Dacus adds to the vulnerability of the lyrics. The songs already released by Baker for ‘Little Oblivion’ have left fans excited to further see the singer’s growth lyrically, and to indulge in the comforting atmosphere that Baker’s songs create.
Gemma Cockrell and Kiah Tooke
Featured image courtesy of Nina via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes made to this image.
In-article images courtesy of @ellise and @yelyahwilliams via instagram.com. No changes made to these images.
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