For the first time in five years, Sky Ferreira is dropping a new single.
It's been over five years since Sky Ferreira released her excellent debut album, Night Time, My Time. Now, she's finally releasing the first glimpse of her forthcoming album Masochism this month in the shape of a new single called "Downhill Lullaby."
The 26-year-old pop singer, actress, and model has had a pretty tumultuous rollout period, one full of false starts and broken promises. Ferreira initially announced the album's title in 2015 and claimed it was to come out that summer. It didn't. It appears that the wait is finally over––if everything goes according to plan.
Ferreira has alluded to her new sound as "Torture Pop" on Twitter and Instagram. Masochism is expected to mix abstract orchestral arrangements into her usual synth pop. The new song, "Downhill Lullaby" is a dreary string-laden track inspired by Disney's Fantasia. The cover art finds Ferreira with retro cut-crease eye makeup, her blonde locks flowing into a pitch black background.
In 2016, she explained the delay in a lengthy post on Instagram: "I refuse to put out something that isn't honest. It's not something that I can force out. If I was to do it any sooner I either would have been compromising myself & anyone listening. I would have had to put out music that wasn't true or a message I would not want to put out into the universe."
In a recent Pitchfork cover story, Ferreira detailed her new songs, her anxiety surrounding the creative process, and the advice Michael Jackson gave her as a 9-year-old. Jackson was a client of Ferreira's grandmother, a hairstylist, and Ferreira mentions that she had been to the ranch but never saw any ill behavior firsthand. She also detailed the upcoming song "Downhill Lullaby" and another track called "Don't Forget."
A large part of the drama surrounding the release of the new record is due to Ferreira's creative differences with her label. The "Everything is Embarrassing" singer has cited the difficulty of being a woman in the music industry as one of the major blocks in creating the music that she wants to make, causing delays in releases. After being denied access to her SoundCloud account at one point, she released a gorgeous, haunting cover of Aimee Mann's "Voices Carry." If you haven't heard it yet, you should.
But Ferreira hasn't been flying totally under the radar. The actress has appeared in David Lynch's Twin Peaks: The Return, Jonas Åkerlund's Lords of Chaos and Edgar Wright's heist musical Baby Driver– she covered "Easy" in the latter's soundtrack. Ferreira's also put out the heavy brass-filled rock duet "Pain Killer" with her boyfriend Elias Bender Rønnenfelt, frontman of Danish post-punk band Iceage.
As a teen, Ferreira was quickly claimed by record labels who began to pull strings on her career and package her as the rebellious girl next door. In 2010, she put out "Obsession," "One," and "17" whose lyrics are pretty self-explanatory: "Sneaking out at night/she's dancing at the nightclub/ yeah, she got a fake ID/ they'll never know she's 17." Ferreira was the 2010 Tumblr ideal – long, ombréd waves, eyes encircled in black eyeliner, and lots of grunge-inspired outfits. After releasing the initial non-album singles, she put out two EPs, "As If!" and "Ghost" which featured the breakout single "Everything Is Embarrassing" and its iconically moody video featuring Ferreira in American Apparel blacks, pouting on a playground. It holds up.
2013's Night Time, My Time heralded a change in creative direction, pivoting from her roots as teen dream starlet to gloomy, retro-futurist pop master. Her songs were still catchy, but now her sound was cut with heavy fuzz and new-wave synth melodies. The album was a tour de force of indie pop (spare for the unbearable sixth track "Omanko"), beloved by critics and fans alike. It marked Ferreira as one of the most talented musicians to break out of the alt realm. She went on to open for Vampire Weekend's Modern Vampires of The City tour and then joined Miley Cyrus' Bangerz tour in 2014, before sustaining an injury a few days into the run.
If there's one thing that this extended release shows, it's that we're all rooting for Sky Ferreira. She's gone through a lot in the past five years (emotionally, physically, and creatively) and her dedication to creating a sound that she's genuinely proud of is an admirable one. Finger's crossed she keeps her word and drops the rest of the album sometime this year.
"Downhill Lullaby" is out 3/31 via Capitol. Masochism is expected out in 2019.
Sara is a music and culture writer who lives in Brooklyn. Her work has previously appeared in PAPER magazine and Stereogum.
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