Like a lot of you, I'm eagerly awaiting whatever it is that New Zealand's best import who records under the name Lorde has cooked up for us on Melodrama, which won't hit our shelves until sometime next month. Fortunately for you, Popdust reader, you have the soaring melodrama of Maisy Kay's latest single, "Out of My Mind," which we're premiering here.
Like Lorde, Kay is a precociously talented expat, in her case hailing from the English town of Claverley (population: about 1600). The dream of pop fame brought her and her family to Los Angeles and she was, reportedly, homeschooled in order to have the time and energy to develop her singing and songwriting talents. "What makes Kay different from other artists," wrote Lucy Binetti in Paste, "is the fact that she recruits an arsenal of songwriters and only performs her own compositions."
"Out of My Mind" has a special place in Kay's songwriting narrative: "This was actually one of first songs I wrote when I was just starting out," she told us. Like Paul McCartney famously sitting on "When I'm Sixty-Four" until he hit the fine age of twenty-five, Kay has been waiting for the right time to help realize her manifesto of creative self-rule. Working with Adam Argyle and Martin Brammer, the latter an Ivor Novello Award-nominated songwriter and producer who has, most recently, worked with a number British pop singer imports like Foxes, Stevie McCrorie and James Bay.
"Out of my Mind also been a mainstay of Kay's live show: "It's quite an upbeat song and my guitarist, Juan [Juan Andrés Carreño Ariza, a Berklee-graduate who once opened for Maroon 5] and I have a lot of fun performing it on stage," she told us. It's easy to see why: an acoustic guitar line runs through most of the song that brings to mind the more intimate moments of the Paramore discography. Brammer and Argyle bring it to pulsing and popping life with a minimal drumbeat that wouldn't be out of place on one of Pure Heroine's deeper cuts.
The song gives us some insight into the mind of a young creative talent, fresh off impressing the folks with some prodigy pop-writing chops. It's a song written in the keys of self-doubt and uneasiness, its verses are framed as introspective questions coded in polite metaphors. Is she a small bird in a big cage? Is she a wild horse on a long chain? Really, she wants to know how big of a deal should she be making of herself, should she be playing with her friends over in the green fields of Claverley instead of staring at this piano box and trying to make it sing like Leonard Cohen. It's a worthy question and one that young singer-songwriters from Alanis Morissette to Michael Jackson to, yes, Lorde have used their music to ask.
Kay's chorus, coming from a place that's secure in the studio walls around her, answers her questions with a smirk that would scan as glib if not for the sheer power of the production's warm and poppy oomph: "It would be wise to swim with the tide/ I would rather be out of my mind."
Andrew Karpan was a pop prodigy who gave it all up to fight in the content wars. Follow him on Twitter.