By Amy Hanna, Production Coordinator
Welcome back one and all! Your local chromesthete is back once more with another edition of Mood Ring Music. We’re going to be looking at five song releases from the past week and assigning them a color and mood. As someone who believes in acknowledging the connections between all our senses, I think we could all do with injecting a bit more color into our listening experience, and for that, I am at your service.
Now, let’s dig in.
Grammy award-winning firebomb, guitar goddess, and unapologetic provocateur St. Vincent has released her newest album Masseduction, and I am hard-pressed to find anything about this album that doesn’t knock all the wind out of me, or make me want to tear my hair out (I mean that positively, I promise). “Pills” is no exception to this. In fact, of all the songs on Masseduction, this song leaves the longest-lasting impact, with a sing-song refrain that feels childlike and light, but in truth, reveals so much about society’s penchant for overmedication it’s almost uncomfortable to listen to. “Pills to wake/Pills to sleep/Pills, pills, pills every day of the week,” sings Clark, aided by vocals from Cara Delevingne and Jenny Lewis in an addictive, singable refrain that crops up on bouncy chimes as well as laid back 808’s. The repetition of the refrain over different sonic sections juxtaposes the sort of manic energy and waves of calm that feel like a really strong high. The song’s energy shifts in the final section, relishing in Pink Floyd-reminiscent classic rock flourish and grandeur. “Pills” is the rise and fall, the inhale and exhale, the hazy come-up and the inevitable crash.
St. Vincent’s “Pills” is red for dangerous.
In this day and age of music discovery, there is no set formula for an artist to rise onto the scene. However, it’s still a bit mind-boggling to imagine your first step into the public eye coming from a Tyler, the Creator collaboration. This is the reality for Alex O’Connor, better known as Rex Orange County, the voice behind some of the most magical moments on Tyler, the Creator’s newest (and most commercially successful) album Flower Boy. “Loving is Easy” is O’Connors first solo output since the release of Flower Boy, which was his first music collaboration ever, let alone with an artist so established. Despite this, O’Connor has nothing to worry about in terms of being pigeonholed, since his style dictated so much of what made Tyler’s album special. That style is showcased brilliantly on “Loving is Easy”, an unassuming, sparkling 70’s callback, bursting with warm, swirling harmonies that would settle perfectly on a late wintery night with a fire crackling in the background. The corresponding claymation music video feels aptly vintage, like something out of an old Christmas special. The vocals take center-stage, with O’Connor’s lackadaisical, nostalgic tone lifting the simplest sentiments into something sparkling. A voice that warm tinges everything orange, and what a lucky coincidence that is.
Rex Orange County’s “Loving is Easy” is orange for relaxed.
Speaking of modern music discovery, Leo Kaylan’s music fell into my lap through modern means: a curated Spotify playlist. Amidst an array of unfamiliar songs with the label “Alternative R&B”, I heard a refined, haunting tenor singing dissonant melodies over sparse, hazy trap beats, and I was hooked instantly. A few months after this discovery, new Leo Kaylan material has finally dropped via “No Man’s Land, Pt. 1”, a track that’s sonically confusing, melodically ambitious, and altogether a vibrant portrait of the inner psyche. To unpack the “sonically confusing” claim: “No Man’s Land, Pt. 1” features modern trap percussion punctuated by vintage record scratches, laid underneath a laser focused synth, topped off with a fully-formed pop melody backed by menacing, dissonant harmonies. All of this to say: this isn’t your typical R&B trap fixture. Kaylan opens up the curtain into his mind and tackles the confusion of isolation with a lot of seemingly contradictory musical elements, blended and performed confidently. It shouldn’t work, but it really, really does, and leaves the listener yearning for a Part 2.
Leo Kaylan’s “No Man’s Land, Pt. 1” is grey for mysterious.
“What’s up with you?” Maybe it’s trite, maybe cliched, but a question like this can open myriad doors, endless possibilities for conversations, answers, and further questions. Thutmose, a Brooklyn via Nigeria rapper, starts “WuWu” like a conversation, and turns a small-talk cliche on its head throughout his brand new single. Vibey and lush, the production of track stands strong against Thutmose’s narrative rapping, through all his questions and his answers. This song is as lighthearted as small talk, and feels fresh amongst current rap output.
Thutmose’s “WuWu” is cyan blue for outgoing.
Fellow introverts, rejoice: we finally get an anthem. Philly-based Allegra Eidinger, who puts out music under the name AllegrA, has just released “I’m An Introvert”, the lead single to her full-length set to drop next month. Eidinger keeps it light, even goofy at times, despite tackling the kind of crippling anxiety introverts face day-to-day. Because the whole thing is kind of funny: parties can suck, small talk is boring, and sometimes something as basic as just being a person in front of other people is really, really hard. It’s nice to laugh about things like that. Eidinger’s easy, raspy vocal delivery feels like being let in on a secret, and frankly, the whole song is a delight, whether you can relate to its content or not.
AllegrA’s “I’m An Introvert” is dark blue for reserved.
Listen to all Mood Ring Music selections below or by clicking here.
(Note: AllegrA’s “I’m An Introvert” is not available to stream on Spotify, so it will not featured in our weekly Spotify playlist).