Review: Sky Ferreira

Night Time, My Time
January 27, 2014

If you haven’t heard Sky Ferreira‘s grunge-tinged brand of electro pop yet, rest assured you’ve probably seen her. The artfully derelict fashion icon has been featured everywhere from Calvin Klein campaigns to the cover of i-D.

The album artwork of her debut – in which a topless Ferreira stares vengefully into the camera while mascara streaks down her cheeks – has received almost as much attention as the actual music.

It would be easy, then, to dismiss Night Time, My Time as the superficial side project of a model/socialite. It’s true that you can’t listen to it without imagining a girl in a ripped oversized shirt and black tights, smoking a cigarette and staring moodily over a cityscape.

It’s hedonistic and youthful, the ideal soundtrack for a TV show like Skins or Misfits. Ferreira’s recent arrest for drug possession, alongside her indie guitarist boyfriend, should come as no surprise.

Beyond its glittery façade, however, run some deeper themes. Ferreira has spoken out about the sexual abuse she suffered growing up, and the blame police put on her for keeping quiet about it. “Ten years old without a voice/I feel like nothing’s changed, I’m just a little older,” she recalls in I Blame Myself, a song that sounds like both an accusation and a call for help.

Fissures of insecurity and anxiety run through it, the inevitable downside of Ferreira’s restless energy. It’s essentially an album of a girl trying to figure herself out. Doubtlessly annoying subject matter for some people, but screw those people. Troubled ingenues tell great stories.

The simplistic lyrics and repetition can be grating at times, especially early on. “I wish these 24 hours would never end,” is hardly groundbreaking expression, nor could “I’m thinking about how much I need you but you’re thinking about somebody else” be considered poetry.

The words by themselves can read like the diary of a disillusioned teenager, but the music saves them. Night Time, My Time pulses with garage beats and stripped back guitar. Refitted ’80s synths buoy Ferreira’s vocals, which switch between breathy verses and full, clear choruses.

The rock n roll edge grows more prominent as the album progresses, picking up speed through catchy single Nobody Asked Me (If I Was Okay), peaking in the gloriously decadent Heavy Metal Heart, and plateauing all the way to the record’s self-titled closer.

She sends us floating through the electro haze of Omanko (“I’m gearing up for a Japanese Christmas” she sighs mysteriously), and lets us breathe in the relative space of I Blame Myself.

The sum of this album parts – the DIY feedback, the bubbles of synth, the thudding bass – is a sense of defiance. Night Time, My Time slips into existence with a world-weary sigh (“boys, they’re a dime a dozen/boys they ain’t doing nothing“), but 12 tracks later Sky Ferreira has made one fact perfectly clear. She can take care of herself.

Watch: Sky Ferreira – Night Time, My Time