When thinking of modern musicians who have shaped the Australian pop music scene, there’s many names and faces that come to mind. But no artist has grown up with us in the way Mallrat has. At least in my generation. I remember dancing in my room while getting ready for my day to Uninvited. Or blasting Groceries and Better when looking for a quick serotonin hit. I often marvel at the simplicity of Charlie and how so few elements are needed to build one of the must beautiful, heartfelt and charming songs I’ve ever heard. She’s been a constant in the industry for years; a staple of radio and festivals throughout the country. And finally, for the first time since debuting with 2016 ‘Uninvited’ EP, she’s finally released her first album!
Using the butterfly as a symbol of “reinvention, freedom and fleeting beauty”, as well as, of course, the feeling of ‘butterflies in your stomach’, the album is a beautiful recollection of the human experience. The metaphor truly encapsulates everything Mallrat‘s music feels like to listen to; happy pop to enjoy the very simple, very nice parts of life.
“I plan my days all around ya” she sings in opening track Wish On An Eyelash, immediately capturing all the best and most joyful parts of her music in only 58 seconds. Layered harmonies introduce To You. The track is produced with a very air-y 70’s psychedelic dream-pop type sound. “I’ve given so much away, my living has gone to waste. But I’ve got a lot to give and that’s how I like to live” she opens, another epithet to her unique ability to simplify emotions into their purest forms.
Mallrat has stated that the first album she ever bought was Azealia Banks’ debut ‘Broke With Expensive Taste’. In a full-circle moment, Mallrat was able to get Banks to feature on Surprise Me. Azealia‘s verse juxtaposes Mallrat‘s lush production and soft-vocal performance brilliantly. The track is reminiscent of Banks, portraying female sensuality and vulnerability through the lens of a soft pop music. Following track Your Love delves deeper into her hip hop elements, with a harsh beat and looped rap sample of Gangsta Pat’s Killa Killa adding a new element to her signature sound.
Described as “the sequel track” to Charlie, Heart Guitar is a highlight of the record. Pointing out the little things like how her partners keys sound in the front door when he comes home, or how his footsteps sound when they’re approaching. The song stories the relationship from the ‘butterflies’ felt at the beginning, until the sombre end. “You used to give me butterflies, yeah I loved you a lot”. The second verse switches the romantic mood of the track, describing the more complicated, harder to navigate feelings.
“Cross-legged on the floor. I’m sitting on the carpet of the boy that I adore and I’ll leave him wanting more. At least that’s what I tell myself those nights that I’m ignored. Because when she’s there it’s like I’m not.“
The verse finishes with one of my favourite lyrics on the album; “How can you give me butterflies and tie them up in knots?“. Heart Guitar is the kind of song you could listen to on loop for hours and always hear something new.
A crunchy guitar opens Teeth, giving the track a gritty and grungy ’90s alternative rock sound. Blurring the ideas of “sex and prayer and violence and power” into “one blurry ball of energy” the song plays out like the kind of track you’d hear in an early 2000s sitcom, like a club scene in Gossip Girl. Rockstar follows the same tone, perfectly contrasting her floaty, romantic lyrics and vocals with aggressive, emotive verses, the track shows a new side to the young artist.
Church choir-like harmonies open I’m Not My Body, It’s Mine. Gentle finger-picked acoustic guitar enters soon after. The lyrics describe up-and-down emotions felt during down periods. “Took some time but I’m fine.. Feel so good I could cry”. Adding elements of country/folk and baroque pop, the track showcases the young artist’s versatility. Emotive and raw, Obsessed details Mallrat‘s desire to impress all the right people when she first ventured into the music industry. A new side to the often cheerful singer, the song is a beautiful addition to the album.
Arm’s Length opens with a single acoustic guitar playing a familiar sounding 4-chord progression. The familiarity of the chords aid the song’s story, about the familiar feeling of getting closer to somebody you want. An instrumental slow-burner, the song grows in the same way love does, taking it’s time, coming together as the drums are introduced in the final chorus. Again, this track features baroque pop elements, another reference to 70s and 80s rock music. This time, with synthetic staccato strings in the background as the track builds further.
Title track Butterfly Blue demonstrates all the best parts of the record that’s played so far; with atmospheric production, a multiplex of emotions and varying, reminiscent production, it masterfully ties together the albums theme. Particularly, tying up the story she began to tell with Heart Guitar. To further finalise the album’s themes, she closes the record with a homage to the type of sound she was inspired by in the record’s production, with a cover of Mazzy Star’s Fade Into You.
I could go on forever about everything I love about this album. But I’ll leave it at that. Whatever you’re doing today, take a moment to stream ‘Butterfly Blue’.
Stream the album HERE
With thanks to Bossy Music + Dew Process