James Bay's Surprise New EP Will Fix Your Broken Heart

The 4 song collection explores the difficult truth of heartbreak.

English singer-songwriter James Bay surprised fans Friday by dropping a new EP entitled Oh My Messy Mind.

The new EP features his critically acclaimed duet, "Peer Pressure," with "Issues" singer Julia Michaels, as well as the fan favorite single, "Bad." This is his first release since 2018's Electric Light.

Bay's ability to forge songs from his own lived experiences, while simultaneously extending them into vignettes of everyday life and heartbreak, makes for music that's equal parts evocative and introspective. The new EP crystallizes the "Let It Go" hitmaker's vocal prowess and sharp songwriting skills into 4 stripped-down tracks.

A few months ago, Bay dropped the intimate music video for "Peer Pressure" featuring Julia Michaels. The video featured the two harmonizing on a dark, empty stage bathed in a blue-ish astral light. It's a roomy rock song that captures the headrush of falling in love against better judgment. Their voices melt into one another as they belt the chorus, "Put your hands on my body just like you think you know me/ Want your heart beating on me, don't leave me hot and lonely/ I don't usually give in to peer pressure/ But I'll give in to yours."

While "Peer Pressure" is definitely the EP's centerpiece, it's contextualized by the surrounding tracks. Each one fitting into the next to create a puzzle of love and heartbreak. The pared down piano ballad, "Break My Heart Right" is a tender ode to the tumultuous nature of relationships. It's the kind of swaying, slow-dance song that'll tug at your heartstrings so hard you might just want to play it at your wedding. "I don't mind falling for a lifetime/ because you break my heart right"

"Rescue" is a sweeping, gospel-infused track that paints a portrait of vulnerability and heartbreak, but ultimately finds Bay singing from a place of gratitude and ends on an uplifting note––both emotionally and sonically. He sings, "They say the more you love the harder you fall/ but I would rather hurt than nothing at all."

"Bad" tracks the anxiety of trying to get over someone, and wanting to get them back but having to come to the bittersweet realization that it's finally over. "The more I think about you / the more I keep the ghost alive". In what would otherwise be considered schmaltzy slow-tempo songs if written by anyone else, Bay possesses the unique ability to make tale-as-old-as-time songs sound brand new, and even a little raw. And at the end of the day, Bay's songs deliver the painful truth of what we might not want to hear, but what we might need to hear.

Oh My Messy Mind

Sara is a music and culture writer.

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