Nuclear Brandy is available via:
15th November, 2017
YOU need only look at the title of MALORY’s latest song…
before bad memories and visions come flashing into the mind (the hangovers of recent celebration)! I will talk about titles and visuals in a minute but, right now; a hint at some trends and scenes that will define 2018; bonding with producers/others; getting big names before you; making your identity seen in a packed market; how to keep momentum going – and why I am focusing on female Pop artists for the first reviews this year. I said, last year, I would stray away from London and concentrate more on the North. My sights are definitely set on areas like Manchester but, as the year begins; the artists from the capital are pitching and shouting loud. MALORY’s latest single arrived at the latter stages of last year but she is already making waves and plans for the coming weeks. There is nothing to suggest northern artists will not take ground and make a big stand in 2018. I am hopeful the balance will shift and there will be a greater movement away from London and up to the North. I will talk, actually, about that now and why I am in London now. MALORY is an artist drawn to the city and compelled by all the colours and vibrations one finds. I am drawn to it and fascinated by all the mix of people and the variations you can discover. It is the place a lot of musicians go to find that spark and get their music heard. MALORY stands out because of the way she evolves her music – I will come to that later. Whilst I hope MALORY performs in the North this year; I know London is a place where her creative juices can flow. Although there are some great artists doing work in other genres; I am looking at the alternative vibes of Pop and seeing what is happening right now.
Pop is going to take a big slice of the pie and it is interesting seeing how the genre will shape and develop. Last year, there was that mainstream dominance and need to foster the traditional, unerring themes that have persisted for a long time. Of course, there were some great songs and original angles but there was not a big explosion to suggest things will change. The likes of MALORY suggest things are changing. There is an appreciation of the mainstream and popular tastes – in her sounds – but much more identity and intelligence than most music. One gets big production and radio-friendly swing but overriding everything is a determination and innovation impressive to see. Female artists have, in my mind, always provided more depth and beauty than their male counterparts. In modern Pop; the way female musicians are fusing other genres and sounds into the pot is deeply impressive. MALORY is someone who picks up little shades here and there and knits them into her own quilt. She knows what it takes to fit into the mainstream but realises how a fresh and unique dynamic will get her there quicker. There are too many who throw in a plastic song with aimless hooks and generic choruses – without realising that will only appeal for a short time. The songs that resonate and persist take risks and challenge the mind. London, in a way, is more practical and better suited (compared to the North) for modern Pop artists. Areas like Manchester have some great Rock/Alternative acts but London seems to be the place the hottest new Pop/Alternative-Pop acts are performing. Not only can the primed and hot youngster make a stand and inspire people: her music has that special ingredient that is hard to put the finger on. I have been looking around music for artists who will remain in the mind and compel me to remain with them. I hear great artists who have a brilliant sound but it starts to distil after a while. MALORY is flexible and creative enough so she can retain her identity and focus but change her style and lyrics between tracks. That means there is always something fresh and intriguing for the listener.
Titles and visuals are an interwoven and integral part of music. I ranted enough about photos last year – how few artists have them available; how music is a visual medium – and why acts who do not consider visuals will struggle to get attention. As a journalist; I look for acts that have an appreciation of the visual side of music and put out regular photos. MALORY has great press photos for Nuclear Brandy that demonstrate what the song is about and stand in the mind. Her previous single, Rapture, has its own look and style; the switch and change between songs extend beyond sound and influence – the visual aspect of each has its own skin. I love artists who throw themselves into photos and create something imaginative. I will come to this more in the conclusion but, if one can hone and create a great song-title; that can open the window in terms of visual creativity. I am hooked and interested in titles and wonder how much effort artists expend with regards the wording. Rapture has that familiarity to it, I guess – Blondie is a band who has that title in back-catalogue – but Nuclear Brandy is very much its own beast! I look at a title like that and am already interested and compelled to dig deeper. What amazes me is the title is not the only interesting thing about the song. The music is deep and interesting; the words are clever and simple at the same time. It is down to the listener to project their own images but the song has a physical and instant sound. MALORY creates that title and, when one sees the images of her swigging from a brandy bottle; you trip into your own mind and imagines what is to come. The song, as I will investigate, is not simply about alcoholic dysfunction and disorder. The Stranger Things-meets-Blast from the Past story of two lovers caught in a 1950s post-apocalyptic bunker is not your average tale! One would see the photos and press images and assume it was going to be a hangover story.
The pictures suggest revelry and chaos; a certain abandonment and reckless side of youth. Given the approaching Christmas and New Year – when the song was being conceived – maybe that was a sign of what was to come. Instead, and what makes it stand out, is the fact you have those impressions going in and are subverted. That is one of the reasons why modern Pop female are interesting: there is more energy and intellect expended when it comes to their stories and lyrics. A lot of modern artists are writing about love and relationships in a very rigid and boring way. That has been the case for a while but I wonder whether the scene is getting too hung up on commercial avenues and predictable songs. MALORY is part of the new breed that goes the extra-mile and pens something wonderful. The 1950s-set story and the brilliantly candid images make her pop and burst from the page. That sensation is continued from the speakers and, when one thinks about it; it is not only her titles that stand out. The whole story and nature of the song emanate from a daring and bold voice in music. It is hard and a gamble projecting something original and fresh and get into the heads of popular radio stations. Even though things are changing; there is that demand for accessible and common sounds. MALORY knows this and has taken the risk, regardless. Her upbringing, musical tastes and influences have guided her own style; she knows the best artists go against the pack – there is that huge possibility things can wrong and people will not react. The reason MALORY has succeeded and is getting acclaim is the fact she covers all the bases. The music and lyrics are fantastic; the images and look is striking and fresh; the production is incredible. An artist who has a lot more to say and sense of desire – this will be rewarded in a very productive and promising in 2018.
Jamie Evans is the studio wizard much on-demand and has been picked up by a lot of artists. I was watching a film about The Beatles last night (Ron Howard directing) and it looked at the way the band evolved and grew. From the leather jacket-clad scruffs to the suited Pop band who changed the world. It was not only the music and genius of the boys that got them that far: it took an outside voice and another body to help get the music promoted and the look just so. I am not saying there are connections in terms of sound – nobody will ever match the heights of The Beatles – but the way the guys were inspired by Brian Epstein (their manager) and producer George Martin got them from local hero status to the platform of rulers. Evans has taken the terrific ammunition from MALORY and helped load, lock and shoot. The way he has brought out little angles and suggestions from the music; his own impressions have gone into the palette and there is that close bond between artist and producer. I am not suggesting Evans has taken over and is the dominant force – MALORY is very much in command – but the hook-up has worked wonders. It is a fresh perspective and the trust between them shows. If she had self-produced or gone with another producer; maybe the song would lack that magic and intoxicating. Nuclear Brandy, on paper, is a challenging song with a lot going on and so much detail. Getting that right and ensuring it all hangs together is not as easy as one might envisage. It takes a lot of care to ensure the lyrics flow and the vocals stand out. The song relies on the dynamism of the composition and the production has to ensure things are crisp and clean – without being too polished and commercial. On top of that; the artist needs to feel comfortable and free to express their own thoughts.
The two have worked closely and concocted something heady and scintillating. The distorted synths and melodic stabs parabond with tribal drums and beautiful vocals. Evans and MALORY have that professional friendship and respect for one another. I can only imagine the conversations that occurred during the recording. The same way the hungry and excited Beatles rocked up and wanted to change things: there is that agility and excitement in MALORY. She has found a producer who recognises the immense talent and vision and has managed to channel and hone that into something remarkable. The natural talent of MALORY blends into Evans’ experience and affinity. I hope they work together again because, when one finds that free and easy relationship; that is not something that should pass by. I am not certain whether there is an E.P. coming in the approaching weeks but let’s hope MALORY and Jamie Evans continue to work together. The reason MALORY has managed to grab the hearts of producers and the public is the fact she wants to deliver music that has its own skin and colours. That words ('colour') seems rather pertinent when it comes to her sounds. It might sound a bit odd and pretentious if one associated songs with certain shades and tones. One might assume there is a bit too much brandy being consumed when talking about purples and greens. Those are the colours that define the new track. If Rapture was, in MALORY’s own words, blacks and reds; this is a more positive and colourful approach. The black-and-red motif might suggest blackjack, gamble and hatred. It is interesting because, when we see colours put together (I know, technically, black is not a colour…) each of us has our own views. We could think of cards and casinos; bloodshed and depression; newspapers and the media (that old joke about what is black-and-white and read all over…) or something to do with the heart – the redness being darkened by impurity. It is harder to broaden when it comes to purples and greens.
There are easier couplings with red and black: green and purple do not sit together as easily so it is interesting finding out why MALORY suggest those colours. I guess there is less to do with the thematic associations and emotions: it is about the sound and something more adventurous, free and less suffocated. It is more welcoming but, I guess, complicated at the same time. It is something to dissect; that is for sure. I have listed to Nuclear Brandy a lot and can hear suggestions of love and togetherness against the possibility of destruction and dissolving hopes. That seems very appropriate for a time when it seems like we are all living in a bunker. If the song is a post-apocalyptic look at past decades: now, we are at a time when the button can go off and the world can change in a heartbeat. That constant fear and nervousness is not something the globe has witnessed since the Cold War – back in the 1950s and 1960s. That battle between communism and capitalism; the division and not knowing whether a bomb was going to be dropped. Now; we have two made leaders baiting one another with no real reason. There is not an ideological imperative or a struggle for power. It is petulant and immature personalities boasting, fighting and poking – almost like two guys at a urinal comparing penis sizes! Green is envy and jealousy; purple suggest flowers and something romantic. Purple is a secondary colour of blue and red - so depression, love and blood can stem from that. A greenish-brown comes from mixing green and purple. That provokes other possibilities but I am pleased MALORY uses colours to define her music. I wonder what colours will come from her next track?! Will we see oranges and pinks? Will there be a brew of white and yellow? Nobody can tell but that, in a way, makes it easy thinking about songs. If you have an idea of colour and scheme; that can get the mind working and lead to something different.
ARTWORK CREDIT: Taylor Torr
I have gone off-track a bit but Jamie Evans, knowing how MALORY works, has helped paint the room and get the colours on the wall. That means we get a very imaginative and detailed song that comes to life from the very off. Before I come to look at the song itself; I wanted to look at why it is important to get music out to the big names. MALORY has struck the heart of tastemakers like Chris Hawkins, Sir Terry Wogan and John Kennedy. The great taste and influence of these D.J.s should not be taken for granted. Wogan might be gone but he knew a great artist when he heard one! The current influencers are not here to suggest commercial acts who are easy on the mind – they do not challenge it – and do things like everyone else! They look for something special that will remain in the mind and public consciousness. It is hard knowing what D.J.s and critics want but, looking at MALORY; she has managed to strike a chord with a broad taste and mindset. I have been looking ahead and wondering what it is that will define 2018. I mentioned Pop and how it will transform; why female artists are going to take more of the acclaim. MALORY has her own voice but she follows in the footsteps of innovative artists that have managed to change the face of music. I love the way she fuses sounds and takes a different approach to lyrics. It is no surprise prolific D.J.s have taken her to heart and realises what a potential force she is. That acclaim and kudos have reached The 405 and Metro; it has got the Radio X and BBC Radio 2. The momentum she got from Rapture has continued and, with Nuclear Brandy, more eyes and ears are trained her way.
Not only has MALORY got the ear of D.J.s and tastemakers there; she has supported George Ezra and played BBC Introducing Hype Park. The twenty-three-year-old has made big moves already and is not taking it for granted. It is a great time for her and I expect that love to expand as we go through the year. Who can say what the mainstream wants but, from polls and articles; I feel there is going to be that desire for intelligent and new Pop artists. Something colourful, bright and inventive is required at a time when we are still pushing generic and commercial sounds. MALORY will get more bodies behind her and see her stock rise. That will take her to new places and I cannot wait to see how far she can go. The fact she has some big names behind her should give her the confidence to keep recording and experiment. She has something that gets into the mind and creates fascination. She does not need to conform and change anything about her music. What I feel will happen is a slight tweak when it comes to production. Jamie Evans has brought something unique from the music. I hope they work together and, when it comes to the studio, push technology and fuse new ideas into the pot. The vocals and lyrics are sublime; the colours and visuals are perfect. The studio and sonics will be the only changes, I feel, as we progress through the year. Female Pop artists will be a big currency because they are daring and looking to get their name out there. There is sexism in the industry so the need to get acclaim and not be overlooked is paramount. That will manifest in huge sounds and some of the most inventive and nuanced tracks we have heard in years. I am confident MALORY will be among the chasing-pack and defining where music is heading.
The initial seconds are cosmic and transporting. It is like aliens are communication and satellites tuning; machines translating and electronic notes reaching out to the stars. I listen to the mad-for-it beats come into the fray and back the balletic and nimble vocals. I hear bits of Tori Amos, Kate Bush and Björk in the delivery and style. MALORY has her own brand but I can detect the influence of these artists. The same beguiling mixture of sweetness and passion; the way the voice skips and contorts – ensuring the words get straight into the heart and head. It seems the heroine is witnessing a dead-end town where people are going underground. Rather than a literal underground: the people seem confined to narrow ambitions and their normal way of things. It is a rather placid and unimaginative routine that numbs the soul and fails to foster any sense of hope. MALORY can see this and discover the folk who are not quite what they seem. There are paranoid liars and those tying up their two left feet; a sense of unease and idiocy that might extend beyond suburban confines. I am, as I can imagine MALORY is/was, living in an area of the country where minds are not exactly sharp and there are no dreamers – people who want to be exciting or have any real hope. We look at news stories of impending doom and think the inevitability of destruction is not as bad as the boredom and horror of a suburban life. Even though Nuclear Brandy has its heart back in the 1950s; the lovers and observers of the track seem to connect directly with the present. The young songwriter has cast her mind back but, in many ways, has one part of her brain in the current climate. I was fascinated diving into the words and the sort of visions. Maybe there is a sense of people wanting to retreat and hide from life. They are doing that without provocation and destruction: squirreled and sequestered from anything vaguely interesting.
Perhaps the overarching mantra is getting out of that toxicity and brain-dead boredom. The people are outside sipping on the lethal nectar; the candy is being eaten and the teeth chipped – the words swoon, fly and hum. Building in some backing vocals to emphasise certain points makes the song an endlessly inventive, romantic and pioneering song. They may sound like odd words to use but I immerse myself in the beauty and am helpless to resist the charms coming through. The production heightens every note and brings certain instrumental elements to the fore. Nuclear Brandy continues to work the mind and get the imagination conspiring. The beats start and stop; there are twinkling notes and the song seems to go through phases. It is a restless thing that has an anxiety and desire to change. Colours are fading to grey and the lovers dance for one another. Maybe they are trapped and feel constrained by their environment. There are so few options and places to go; uninspired and trapped by the unadventurous and disengaged nature of the people. The landscape is not compelling any drive and I can feel the heroine desperate to embrace something real and promising. There is a bliss hiding out below and, perhaps, escaping from the worst of it. Maybe there is that comfort in being in a rut and not having to engage with an exciting world: perhaps it is the proximity of the city and the way we can all get there and run from the miasma of the suburban lifestyle. The sirens blare and the flowers “never die” – we’ll “always smell the roses”, it is said. That contrast between the beige and boring; to the vibrant and vivacious; the bunker-life safety and the need to run from it and go to a more promising environment. I can relate and many can connect with the depression and lifelessness that comes from living somewhere closeted and limited. By the end of the song; you are provoked to listener again – there is a lot going on and it has that addictive quality. Not only does Nuclear Brandy get you thinking and considering your own life; there is an instant weight and authority that means the song gets right into the head and stays there. You will be singing the track and taking it wherever you go.
MALORY has made big statements with Rapture and Nuclear Brandy. I am excited seeing where she goes from here and whether more material will arrive. I feel an E.P. is the next step and a way to get a body of work out there. The singles have gained radioplay and opportunity but, from here, there is a chance to make a big leap. The momentum is with her and there are many making predictions. I feel MALORY will mix it with the biggest newcomers and lead the charge of female Pop songwriters. There will be gigs around London but I feel a larger remit is on the cards. She will get to other parts of the country and take the music further North. The current single has that imagery of suburban life and whether it is worse than nuclear fall-out – the way it deadens the mind and people learning to die; rather than learning to live. It is a viewpoint and reality we can bond with and, in the song, that last cocktail, the nuclear brandy blend, is the way out. Rather than succumb to that miserable eventuality; getting out and doing something in life is essential – making a break and doing something exciting is key. I get that from the song and can certainly appreciate the sentiment. Many will also relate and, when MALORY starts touring again; many will flock to see her. I know she has a date at The Finsbury on 19th February; where she will be playing alongside some incredible new talent. Check her Facebook page for that information and make sure you get down there! It is going to be a great year for her and I, for one, cannot wait to see how far she goes! The music already out there proves there is nobody quite like her. Nuclear Brandy blows the mind and, whether you capitalise her name (I chose ‘MALORY’), she stands out and is someone who will not pass by the biggest tastemakers. She’ll hit the road, record new music and prove how in-demand her music is. Even though we are only just in January; I am confident we are listening to an artist who can be…
ONE of 2018’s breakaway stars!