Review Summary: Sky Ferreira's debut is a highly listenable but ultimately vapid exercise in bombastic pop.
Much has been made of twenty-one-year-old California girl Sky Ferreira and her often contentious public persona. For a young, rebellious artist that seems so insistent upon detaching herself from the manufactured pop icon mold, her inability to stay out of the public eye seems ironically adherent to the same twenty-first century American notion of pop superstardom.
And yet, for an artist who seems to have made it clear that her target audience is listeners of the indie/hipster subculture, Night Time, My Time
doesn’t find Ferreira crafting reflective anti-pop in the vein of female songwriters like Fiona Apple or Regina Spektor- artists who utilize their sound to lash out against the values and ideals of the mainstream. Instead, the album owes much to the very system she supposedly rejects- big hooks, traditional song structures, and familiar eye-rolling lyrics about boys and sentimental first-class struggles. It seems likely then, that many will find the album’s stubborn unwillingness to partake in more experimental or ambitious songwriting uninteresting, and even grating.
But many of the songs on Ferreira’s debut, regardless of the supposed mold they fit in, tend to break away from the blandness that resonates through much of modern mainstream pop. Ferreira, perhaps due to her supposed reluctance of being molded into yet another disposable pop star, seems to have assembled a group of competent producers who, although do not stray too far outside traditional sonic boundaries, have a firm understanding of the various pitfalls that undermine the radio-pop landscape. The aesthetics of producer Ariel Rechtshaid- who has worked with artists including Vampire Weekend, HAIM, and Cass McCombs- are immediately evident on the standout, opening track “Boys.” With its punchy, distorted guitar riffs and rapid-fire bass drum hits, the track sounds like a blend of Top 40 and Sleigh Bells inspired bubblegum rock. The vital, guitar-driven sonic palette permeates through much of the album and inspires many of its best moments. So, it becomes even more frustrating when the album falls back on more generic pop tendencies- like the uninspired, muddled electronic and vapid hooks of “24 Hours” or “Heavy Metal Heart,” rendering them frustratingly forgettable.
When the album falters on a sonic level, there is little in the way of narrative intrigue or poetic lyricism to fall back on. As such, it often feels like the album’s pleasures are achieved in spite of Ferreira herself. For a young artist whose troubles have been so often publicized, it’s surprising that she has so little to say. Night Time, My Time
feels like an entirely escapist affair, where Ferreira seems to have surrounded herself by big hooks and crunchy guitars while turning her back to any sort of deeper self-reflection. Sky Ferreira’s debut is a solid, nuanced pop record- but one can only hope for a bit more honesty next time around.