single: Sky Ferreira – ‘I Blame Myself’

Sky Ferreira is an interesting pop star, regardless of her current slot as the supporting act for the world’s most notorious subscriber to the weekly edition of How to Break Your Mullet-Monster Dad’s Achy Breaky Heart in Ten Easy Steps. Radiating a certain magnetism and purveying a more natural edge for being leftfield in terms of image than Miley stick-your-tongue-out-and-exploit-black-culture Cyrus – look no further than the uncensored, naked intimacy of her long-delayed debut record artwork or her freewheeling romance with Zachary Cole Smith of Diiv (who are incidentally a very good band) replete with allegations of drug use – Ferreira’s pop manifesto has been a permanent fixture of intrigue since she released the bitingly ironic, tongue in cheek, outrageously infectious, glistening synth punches of One back in 2010. At once both a neat subversion of and sardonic conformation to modern pop soundscapes and textures, critiquing the uniformity and mindlessly repetitive headspin of much of the electronically uninspired pop universe, it certainly wouldn’t have raised any eyebrows if One had justly reached radio airwaves, especially when considering Chvrches’ recent success in finding a mainstream pedestal to orate from through the mouth of the totes-edgy Fearne Cotton: it basically plays out like a more overtly bubblegum and vocally coquettish incarnation of the synth-loving Scots. Like Lauren Mayberry, Sky also has something worthwhile to say. Attacking the heart of the oppressive commercial powers that be, One revealed a talent willing to endeavour beyond the static, endlessly stretching graveyard of EDM. Above all else, though, it showed a level of personal consciousness and blunt sincerity virtually unheard of in the over-produced, overly-diplomatic veneer of the current musical landscape.

I Blame Myself, the latest single to be released from the excellent ‘Night Time, My Time’ here in the UK, largely continues this theme of openness and self-awareness. With a soft-edged dance beat and gently bouncing synths following the bullishly emotive pop song blueprint verbatim, Sky stridently dabbles in a sense of defiance, of facile preconceptions about her character mostly formed on the basis of her ethereal blonde grace and dead-eyed model stare that ubiquitously graced almost every magazine cover worth its salt a while back (‘Is it because you know my name? Or is it because you saw my face on the cover?’). Perhaps more pertinent, though, is the self-deprecation running through the song’s veins. Her vocals are brilliantly sharp and piercing, domineering even, refusing to let the controversy she’s found herself engulfed in at times from submerging: in the titular refrain, she frequently addresses and even empathises with her critics (‘Underneath it all / I know it’s not your fault / That you don’t understand / I blame myself’), making no attempt to hide who she is. She, after all, should know better than anybody else. It’s a deeply personal exploration of identity, of being misunderstood and alienated, of truly knowing yourself and only yourself, but it’s also an inherently universal experience, marking the explicitly impassioned vocal delivery in the final chorus a rallying cry for the outcast. This is lyrically complex stuff, especially when measured up against her unjustifiably bigger, brasher, boorish counterpart spewing generic, nonsensical guff that ‘we run things, things don’t run we.’ It’s an unjust world. And pop stars, love them or loathe them, exist to make that world go round. So why not listen to an original one who actively pushes herself, strays into unfamiliar territory, plummets her genre’s murky depths, and makes pretty fucking great songs for once?

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About darrylhunt

Third year studying English Literature at the University of Sheffield
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