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#albumoftheday REVIEW: SKY FERREIRA: NIGHT TIME, MY TIME (NSFW PHOTO IN POST)

Today is a big day for Sky Ferreira. After five years of handing in one album after another, only to have them all rejected, Capitol records has finally released her debut album, Night Time, My Time. But calling it a debut feels slightly wrong. Technically, yes, it is her first full-length release. But, according to Pitchfork, she handed in 400 songs before making this album. That’s four times as many songs as Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera have released during their entire careers. Let that sink in for a moment. Imagine how frustrated you would be if you handed in 35 album’s worth of songs only to have them all rejected. It’s no wonder Sky has sounded pissed at the label. As a fan of her music, I can’t help but wish that she’d never signed with them. Had she signed with a label that didn’t try to mold her into something she’s not — the next Britney — she might have released several albums already. Maybe even more. Thinking about all of those songs that are just filed away somewhere, which might never see a release, frustrates the hell out of me. It’s a wonder Sky hasn’t had a complete nervous breakdown. But she’s seemed to hold herself together, even following her arrest last month for drug possession.

The album opens with a song called “Boys,” which is kind of ironic. Here Sky has finally gotten Capitol to release her debut album — made the way she wanted it — and the first thing she sings about is probably the very thing the label was nagging her to sing about all along. That said, I have a feeling that “Boys” doesn’t sound anything like what the label would have had her doing if she’d given in and become a puppet like so many other pop stars. Which is to say that it doesn’t sound like bubblegum pop at all. It does have a lovely melody, but it sounds more like pop from the ’50’s or ’60’s than anything currently dominating the charts. Meanwhile, the music is raw if not entirely gritty. The first time you listen to it, you’ll probably think you’re listening to simple lo-fi. But subsequent listens reveal lots of loops running through the song, scattered throughout, giving it plenty of depth and detail. To that end, it reminds me of Garbage’s self-titled debut. It also sounds an awful lot like the noise pop of The Raveonettes and noise pop is what I would call it if I had to categorize it. In fact, if I had to tag the album as a whole with a genre distinction it would definitely be noise pop. As for what Sky actually has to say about boys, here are the lyrics that open the album: “Boys they’re a dime a dozen / Boys they ain’t doin’ nothin’ for me any longer.”

Sky co-wrote the album with Ariel Rechtshaid and Justin Louis Raisen, who also produced it. Typically, albums Rechtshaid produces have a very clean sound. Some of the artists he’s worked with are Usher, Vampire Weekend, Major Lazer, Haim, Charli XCX and Alex Clare. A very diverse group of artists, to be sure, but all of their work with Rechtshaid sounds quite polished, not even remotely rough around the edges like Sky’s album. And Raisen’s work has been just as pristine, his client list including Little Boots, Charli XCX and Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara. And there’s no noise in their glossy pop. The reason I’m pointing this out is to say that Night Time, My Time’s raw and sometimes abrasive sound was likely Sky’s idea. To say that she did, in fact, orchestrate this record. That she’s not an artist who just gets songwriting credits for being in the same room as the writers while they’re working. She actually did co-write these songs and, I believe, she had full control over them.

One of the most fascinating things about Night Time, My Time is how prophetic it is. Except for “You’re Not The One” and “24 Hours,” all of the songs on the album were written and recorded this past August. Prior to her arrest. Yet you’d swear so many of the lyrics on the album were written in response to the arrest. But, no, Sky had no idea that was going to happen when she wrote these songs.

Following the arrest, one of the things Sky pointed out in interviews was that nobody asked her if she was okay. That is one of the main things she sings about during “Nobody Asked Me (If I Was Okay),” another tune that calls to mind Garbage. The slick, punchy tune should especially please fans of her previous single “Red Lips,” which was written by Garbage’s Shirley Manson.

AN INSIGHTFUL FACEBOOK POST THAT SKY HAS SINCE DELETED

AN INSIGHTFUL FACEBOOK POST THAT SKY HAS SINCE DELETED

“You think you know me so well / I just want you to realize I blame myself,” Sky sings during the synth pop delight “I Blame Myself.” She adds, “for my reputation.” Sky is a self-described feminist and often comes across as being very confident, but songs like this also reveal her to be rather self-deprecating. And if you didn’t know better, you’d think “I Blame Myself” was an apology for her arrest. Alas, it would seem it’s actually Sky blaming herself for the way people perceive her. “Is it because you know my name? / Or is it because you saw my face on the cover?” she sings. “Either way it’s all the same / It’s like talking to a friend who’s trying to be your lover.”

Speaking of lovers…”If you consider sleeping over / I’ll consider you,” Sky sings, sounding a bit like a temptress, during “Ain’t Your Right.” She continues: “I’ll only warn you one time / I’ve got a stilted view.” It’s a vibrant if jittery pop punk number with an irresistible chorus.

If showing her nipple on the album cover doesn’t generate controversy then chances are “Omanko” will. The title alone should generate chatter, being that it’s a Japanese slang word for a woman’s vagina. I believe it’s like the Japanese version of the C word that I won’t dare write here. “Oh, Japanese Jesus, come on,” Sky moans during the industrial-tinged tune. “I’m gearing up for a Japanese Christmas,” goes the addictive chorus. She sings that line enough that the song is sure to show up on lots of people’s Christmas playlists this year.

Another highlight is the ’80’s-flavored, Blondie-esque “24 Hours,” which I believe was written at least a couple of years ago, though it fits in perfectly with the new songs here. “It’s slipping away / There is no tomorrow without you,” Sky laments. “I wish these twenty four hours would never end,” she sings during the chorus. I could see this one becoming a big hit. It’s rough around the edges, but in a way that fans of alt-pop like Lorde and Lana Del Rey should appreciate. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that the chorus is immensely catchy.

I greatly admire Sky Ferreira. Here’s a young woman who could have been a multi-millionaire like Selena Gomez or Demi Lovato already if she’d only played the part the record label wanted her to play. But she refused and remained true to herself. Yes, she occasionally did a single to pacify the label, though she was quick to express her dissatisfaction with them in interviews. But she was young and still discovering herself. And she refused to make an album the way they wanted to do it. She wrote and recorded several album’s worth of songs her way only to have them rejected again and again. Yet she didn’t give up. Many artists would have thrown in the towel and quit the business years ago. Or become that puppet the record label wanted them to be. Not Sky. She kept on making music, remaining true to herself, and now she’s finally released the debut album she wanted to release. Bravo to her!

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Paris365

An entertainment journalist for 20 years, Michael McCarthy was a columnist and contributing editor for the magazines Lollipop and LiveWire. He co-created and wrote for Cinezine, one of the '90's most popular movie E-zines. The only time he's not listening to music is when he's watching television shows and movies or reading, usually music magazines.

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