29 October 2014

Sky Ferreira - Night Time, My Time

 
Delayed releases sometimes work to the best for this blog; the album that we are reviewing here is 'Night Time, My Time' by singer/actress/model/songwriter Sky Ferreira.  The original release from this album if you go by the American/Canadian release (and this is the digital/iTunes release is 29 October 2013.  However for the rest of the world, it has slowly been dripped fed to the rest of the world and it was finally released in the UK (where I am based) on 17 March 2014.  It is a bit of a delay between reviewing the album, but as I always say - we have been a little bit busy.  So this is the debut album from Sky Ferreira after two EP's and a numbers of singles.  The album was first announced in 2011, but due to delays and fights with her record company it was delayed (and explains why there has been two EP's since it was first announced).  The album also marks a change of her original style to 80's synth pop/alternative indie accordingly to the information I can find out about the album.  It was also a top 40 album in Australia, reaching 45 in the American Billboard charts and 73 in the UK - not exactly setting the world on fire, but for a debut it is a modest success story.  Now, before we go forward I want to address the elephant in the room - that cover.  It is designed to shock and grab attention, the fact it was picked by the artist themselves shows that she is comfortable with the picture being in circulation; it is not a sexy image and it feels like someone has took a photo of a very vulnerable time.  It is obvious an anti-image choice (granted, it is from a model but that is her choice) and reading what Sky Ferreira has said about it shows that she is trying to be a stark image; you can either be angry with it or accept it, but it is her body and image to sell.  From my point of view, I have no problem with it one way or another; but it should not be the only talking point of the album - it should be mostly about the music, so let’s find out what this is all about....

The first track on this album is called "Boys" which has a Ladyhawke quality about it; you have the indie sensibility and that big 80's sound.  Unlike some other bands which I have had the displeasure of reviewing recently, it feels finished and solid.  The indie pop dynamic of the song is infectious and full of energy, spirit and mystery.  It is by no means the most original thing I have ever heard, but it is certainly entertaining.  "Ain't Your Right" is the next song, to be honest it does not do much for this listener.  The jarring keyboard against the riff does not meet the standard of "Boys" and it feels like a filler track which is way too early at this stage of the album.  That said, the bass on the song is powerful and makes the track bearable.  "24 Hours" more than redeems the album though; this song is so over the top than I just enjoyed being lost in the moment.  I found myself singing out loud to the song which is not something that should be heard by anyone.  The 80's fade at the end was another nice touch and the song has a timeless quality about it.  After this we have "Nobody Ask Me (If I Was Ok)" which comes across as a 80's synth pop/punk anthem for any type of disco or club you can think of, you have the slightly throw away lyrics (I say slightly as it is about someone crying for help - if you are in need of help, talk to someone; Samaritans, police, anyone) and a pounding chorus that will have the masses singing along to at the drop of a hat.  It combines a glam rock swagger, luscious pop and clever production work from a production team (same team on all the songs - so it does not fall in the multiple producer bracket) who know how a pop song should work.

"I Blame Myself" is a step back in comparison to the last few songs, it is a piece of gentle pop and could easily been a song from Lady Gaga, Madonna, Britney Spires, etc, etc.  It is ok, but it is filler - nothing more or less.  "Omanko" has a strange guitar riff and bass combo from the beginning, it is all fuzzy, there are sleigh bells in the background and the drums feels as if they have been recorded in an air tunnel.  The lyrics are strange as well; the song is about a Japanese Jesus and Christmas.  It is a simple song which represents the feeling of spending Christmas in a foreign country.  It is a very strange tune and I am still not sure if I love it or hate it, all I know for sure is that I find it intriguing at the very least.  Next is "You're Not The One" which once again delves into that 80's box of tricks, once more it has that retro facade, it makes it almost throw away in nature.  But whilst it does not have much in the way of depth, it makes up for it in the terms of sheer pop cool; also when you keep returning to certain tunes, you know that the song is good.  After this is "Heavy Metal Heart", the guitars are brought back to the forefront and yet the pop is not forgotten.  This is in no way, shape or form a metal song; it does share a certain musical overtone with Deborah Harry and her hit "French Kissing In The USA", but with a modern touch and flair.  It is not as grabbing as "Nobody Asked Me (If I Was Ok)" which is also shares some similar sounds, but it is still one of the highlights of the record.

"Kristine" is a strange mixture of fuzzy indie and dream pop; the music is a swirling vortex of the distorted guitar tone that grunge music called their own in the 90's, yet the keyboards and lyrics are shopping mall and indeed there is part of this song that is about going to the shops Kristine.  But when you get underneath the tones of the lyrics, it is quite a harsh statement about young millionaires; this song sounds like it could have had David Bowie doing backing vocals, telling people about all of the things that are going on. It is the first song that actually confuses me, I'm not sure if it is a damming condemnation of today's youth or in praise - strange.  "I Will" is the tenth song of the album of the album, at first I was going to say it was another piece of filler and without merit; but the repeat listenings have unveiled a charm to the tune that comes through slowly but surely.  Again, there is a large dose of Blondie/Deborah Harry about this song; but that is not a bad thing to be honest.  Yes, it is still a basic pop song; but this is a pop album, I am not expecting statements from a Bono-crazed megalomaniac.  "Love In Stereo" has a slow keyboard, plucking guitar beginning and then the kick drum kicks in with a slightly faster beat; but it does not go beyond that point, this song is a filler track if I am honest, not unpleasant or without a pop glow that will make some people giggle like school children, but still filler.  Ending the album is the title track - "Night Time, My Time"; unlike most of this album, this is slowed down, dirty and slightly sinister pop gem that is not for the dance floor.  It is a fitting ending to the album, night time is sometime the point where you slow down; the vocals are haunting and the album ends on a high note as the song does speed up to a Beatles-esque wall of white noise.  On some editions there are a few more songs, but I am just reviewing the original release.

Now what we have here is a quality pop album, which like a pop records does have a little bit of fluff that is not for everyone.  Is it the most original of records - no, I have heard a lot of this done before.  Is it good - yes, it is incredibly good.  The pop formula is hard to get wrong, but it is also hard to get someone like me who is essentially a weird indie/metal guy from North East England singing out loud to some songs which are not really aimed at me anyway.  It is a pop gem of the last year and well worth looking into.  I still think the cover is designed to shock and will put some people off, but this is better than the Lady Gaga's, Shakira's and other pop divas of the world.  If you are looking for an alternative pop gem, look no further; also she has just announced that album number two is in the works.  I will be looking forward to that one.

8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

Top track - Nobody Ask Me (If I Was Ok)

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can follow Sky Ferreira's activity on her Tumblr account here

You can listen to the album from Spotify here

Here is the link to listen to the album on Deezer

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