About 17 and a half minutes into her debut album, Sky Ferreira prods you to consider how strange it is that you’re listening to it at all. “I just want you to realize I blame myself,” she sings, “for my reputation.” The last word there is the slippery one: It’s difficult to pinpoint what exactly Ferreira’s reputation is at this point, or whom she might be shifting blame from. Maybe she has in mind her young parents, who put her upbringing in the hands of her grandmother. Or perhaps she’s talking to the A&R team at Capitol Records, who signed her at age 15 in the hopes that she’d become the next Britney. The label orchestrated some minor singles for her (“One” and "Obsession”), only to let her planned full-length sputter and die along with her recording budget.
It’s also possible she’s addressing the horde of fashion-world supporters who helped her become a raccoon-eyed ingenue better known for looking cool on Terry Richardson’s Tumblr and modeling Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent pieces than making music. More plausible still, her followers at large for being seduced by the socialite component while failing to invest in her musical aspirations. And what of her boyfriend, Zachary Cole Smith of bedroom-rock band DIIV, the guy carrying a bunch of heroin when the two were arrested together in upstate New York this fall? At barely 21, Ferreira’s had a musical career burdened—and bolstered—by so many warring external forces and unconventional zig-zagging that the sheer existence of her debut album is a minor miracle.
So it’s both a relief and a bit of a shock that Night Time, My Time is not only here, but that it’s one of the most pleasingly conventional and cohesive pieces of pop-rock to come along this year. Particularly given last year’s uneven Ghost EP, which rode the success of “Everything Is Embarrassing” and used big-name collaborators to dabble in a sometimes-confusing assortment of styles—Shirley Manson-stamped grunge, singer-songwritery folk, electro-pop. Night Time, My Time finds Ferreira navigating her tastes more gracefully, bridging the gaps between 80s pop sparkle and full-bodied 90s grunge in a streamlined way. Her primary collaborator this time is producer Ariel Rechtshaid (Solange, Haim, Charli XCX, Vampire Weekend, Usher), a guy known for adding both big-league pop polish to smaller acts and fine-tuning to bigger ones.
Night Time, My Time resists the self-serious instinct to position Ferreira as an artist artist— which might have been an especially powerful temptation considering she's a young woman in the music industry who’s spoken about coming into her own sense of agency. She examines emotional neglect (“Nobody Asked Me (If I Was Okay)”) and self-loathing, but also sings clever songs about lifestyle posturing—“Stabbin’ pens in my hand/ But I’m never workin’, just spending/ A giant comedy with museums and shopping with Kristine,” she sings on “Kristine”, a giddily odd track with ska undertones. She’s does her glummest Chan Marshall impersonation (“Night Time, My Time”), but she also refers to the men in her life as simply boys and isn’t afraid to address them in a purposefully grade-school tone: “Boys, they’re a dime a dozen,” she mutters. “Boys, they just make me mad.” Night Time, My Time isn’t the reactionarily somber anti-pop drag it could have been—instead, it’s a smart Kelly Kapowski hair-whip and loud bubblegum-crack of a record that lends itself to compulsive listening.
All of which was made possible by the unlikely power of “Everything Is Embarrassing”, the subdued electro-pop gem that reoriented Ferreira’s career map altogether last year. (Ferreira is one of the rare artists for whom the word “crossover” has meant a foray into the indiesphere.) The only flashes of that song’s anthemic pop fizz are found on “I Blame Myself”, an uptempo beast that sparkles with the promise of a song destined to become some kind of hit. What’s especially remarkable is that the song achieves the impact of “Everything Is Embarrassing” without its seductive too-cool vacancy—Ferreira now sounds like she has her head held up high instead of glancing down at the floor, bored and ready to leave the party. For someone whose voice often registers at a depressive whisper, she also knows how to look listeners directly in the eye and get them to just listen to her. Finally. She's at the center of her music now, blissfully free of anyone else to blame.
Boys, 24 Hours, Omanko & Night Time, My Time are everything
Whats your favorite tracks from the album?