‘Brooklyn’ is the third single from Malco’s debut album ‘Failures’ which comes out 5th June on 6131 Records. The opening drumbeat and moody bass line of ‘Brooklyn’ is atmospheric, a little reminiscent of Meanwhile Back in Communist Russia, it builds and builds as Malco’s sweet, but strong vocals weave her story. Over the repeating guitar melody that works its way up to a peak of drums and guitars, she creates a window into this memory for us; we stand with her on a cold day on the beachfront in New York city, contemplating the complexities of watching those close to you move on and away, and how hard it can be to maintain friendships across borders and oceans, “I watched you fly/on the rides at Coney Island/the wind was biting/the sky was red-burnt/you looked just like birds overhead”. Much like Phoebe Bridgers’ new single ‘Kyoto’ we are being given a day in someone else’s life, a diary entry of a moment in an unfamiliar place and the new understandings about yourself which that feeling of groundlessness can create.
Malco has been releasing music since 2010, and her 2013 EP ‘Tearing Ventricles’ was as deceptively simple in its arrangement of piano and vocals as it was beautiful and moving. Judging by the singles released so far, ‘Failures’ sees a move more towards the indie/emo/folk sound of artists like Julien Baker, Camp Cope, Muncie Girls, or Tellison. Malco is an Alcopop Records alumni, which is context that makes a lot of sense given her talent for a big guitar chorus and smart, emotive lyrics. Previous single ‘Animal’ is a liberating, joyous anthem that brings me a lot very happy nostalgia for the guitar bands of my teenage years, but still with a freshness and that gut-punch combination of big guitars and raw lyrics, with a sorrow that you won’t quite notice until you catch yourself singing along.
The guitars kick in for the final moment of catharsis and crescendo as Malco lets loose the full power of her vocals which seemed so deceptively gentle at first, “I see you fading and I live across an ocean/I talked you out of staying but I don’t know when you’ll come back/You said don’t worry, we don’t need anybody, you’re living out your dreams in New York”. Something about this track has captured me and I think it’s in part because of the current situation for most of us in the world right now living under lockdown. This is a song about remaining close to someone important to you despite the distance, remembering the unfolding of a specific moment that you shared; the pure happiness of letting go on a night out with your best friend in an unfamiliar place – which feels like an impossible fantasy right now. The grief she’s sharing at feeling apart from someone important is the emotional pull underpin of the track, but it’s the bittersweet joy of knowing this person is still a valuable part of your life and of a precious memory and moment that she is also celebrating. This is the essence of what I love about Malco’s music, it’s emotional and affecting but never mawkish, always giving something of the hope of something better or more in moments of sadness and strife, both in her lyrics and the rising patterns of her melodies.
Photo by Sam Manville