“At first I wanted it to be, like, 12 different genres; each song a different genre,” said an 18-year-old Sky Ferreira in a 2010 interview about her debut album. “[but] not everyone else was so into that…”
Two years later, with her top forty orientated debut since shelved and an indie makeover in full swing, Ferreira is finally able to indulge her multi-genre desires with the release of her second EP, Ghost. The five-track set is light on electronica, heavy on eclecticism, and miles away from last year’s super catchy As If!.
Wistful opener “Sad Dream” is a folky, lo-fi number that’s been gently spiced up with some Lynchian chords, à la Lana Del Rey’s “Blue Jeans”. In the hands of a lesser songwriter or vocalist, it could almost resemble a woeful Joy Jordan ditty from Todd Solondz’s Happiness, but Ferreira’s defeated delivery appropriately evokes the poignancy of the lyrics (“Only ever in dreams I wrap my arms around you”), as if love’s endless tug of war has left her in the kind of listless depression that creeps up once the sun goes down.
There’s more melancholy in title track “Ghost”, a boozy alt-country torch ballad produced by former Fiona Apple collaborator Jon Brion. Country is still a dirty word on the pop scene (“I like all music except country,” states generic pop fan #3027), so it’s a pleasant surprise to see Ferreira –once touted as pop’s next big thing– so unselfconsciously diving into the genre, even if just for one song.
The grungy “Red Lips” slightly resembles Nirvana, but could undoubtedly pass for an old Garbage single, and with production from Greg Kurstin and a co-write from Shirley Manson herself, it’s likely a leftover from Manson’s shelved solo project. I wasn’t a fan of the cut when it first premiered (I’d rather just listen to the real Garbage and Nirvana, thanks), but it’s grown on me a lot since hearing it in the context of the EP.
Outside of Ghost’s guitar-driven tracks, Ferreira briefly looks back at the dance-friendly As If! on the electropop thumper “Lost In My Bedroom”. It pretty much sounds like Goldfrapp scored an early John Hughes flick (which is obviously a good thing) but this is one track that would’ve been better used elsewhere. However, Ghost’s other electronic cut, “Everything is Embarrassing”, turns out to be the EP’s standout number. Ferreira’s vocal matches the spacey Dev Hynes-produced pop ballad by being both distance and inviting, her every word surrounded in a hazy fog of 808′s and synths. It’s stunning and mysterious, and not entirely unlike Solange’s “Losing You” (also helmed by Hynes). But where Solange’s single comes with a ready-to-crossover groove and fairly straightforward lyrics, “Embarrassing” is far more abstract, and certainly a lot hipper.
Some folks may be left wondering what kind of artist Sky Ferreira is after hearing Ghost, but the answer is pretty simple: a very talented and interesting one who just so happens to love a wide variety of music. With the exception of the jarring “Lost In My Bedroom”, Ghost flows incredibly well, and could easily be fleshed out into a full-length album. When that album will actually see the light of day is anybody’s guess, but if it’s even half as good as “Everything is Embarrassing”, then it’ll be worth the wait.
Must download: Sad Dream, Everything is Embarrassing, Ghost
For fans of: B-list indie-pop divas, sexy hipsters, all things melancholy