The Killers – Pressure Machine
A quieter, character-study-driven album, Pressure Machine lives squarely in Flowers’ hometown of Nephi, Utah, a close-knit community of 5300 people with no traffic lights, a rubber plant, wheat fields, and the West Hills. Nephi is the place Flowers spent his formative years (10-16), saying “had it not been for advancements in the automotive industry, Nephi in the 90s could have been the 1950s.” The album’s songs are based on the memories and stories of people that impacted him growing up, interspersed with commentary from current Nephi locals about their town. “We were discussing [Brandon] moving to Nephi as a kid and being stuck in the middle of nowhere,” says the band’s drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. “And during Covid-19, it started to feel like we were all in the middle of nowhere.” Concurs Flowers, “I discovered this grief that I hadn’t dealt with,” he says, “many memories of my time in Nephi are tender. But the ones tied to fear or great sadness were emotionally charged. I’ve got more understanding now than when we started the band, and hopefully I was able to do justice to these stories and these lives in this little town that I grew up in.”
The resulting record is an aural document of growing up – and living – in the American Southwest, told from a myriad of perspectives. For the first time in his life, Flowers had complete lyrics before a note of music was put to tape. No stranger to inhabiting different characters in songs, on Pressure Machine he steps into the shoes of some of the people whose lives he watched unfold as a teen. The album weaves the threads of Flowers’ signature lyricism throughout his career into a perfect whole culminating in the most elegant album The Killers have ever made.
Through its characters and also its title, the album squares up to the unbending pressure of the American dream compounded by religious disenchantment. A born optimist, moments of beauty inevitably shine out of the grief of Flowers’s songs: the healing arrival of summer, the first crop of hay, sweeter skies. Pressure Machine’s stories detail the real life personal battles, overwhelming regrets, local tragedies, and the opioid epidemic that hit Flowers’ hometown, as well as every hometown in America. Flowers sings about the choices people make, for better and for worse, and the consequences of those choices; the ones who were left behind, and the ones that can’t be forgotten.
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Jade Bird – Different Kinds of Light
Liz Lawrence – Drive
the rhythmically dynamic and 90s tinged ‘Drive’ is a playful analysis of the sometimes romantic, often fractious connection between people and their devices: “wake up early, holding your phone in your hand like love.” It conjures up a hazy, dream-like confusion in a culture driven by black and white opinions. “Sometimes I don’t know enough to have an opinion,” she explains. “A little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing, and I don’t think human beings are dealing with it very well.” ‘Drive’ is a continuation of ‘The Avalanches’ more playful and deliberate nature, allowing Liz to explore more complex issues and flex both her songwriting & production muscles as an artist.
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spill tab – Indecisive
On ‘Indecisive’ (feat. Tommy Genesis), spill tab reflects, “My producer and I wanted to make something with dummy fast drums and we sort of just went from there. We had all the sections we wanted but were missing a verse and I just really wanted someone to rap over it and go hard and I also didn’t want it to be me. I think my team sent the song over to Tommy’s camp and she loved it and was down to hop on it, and I’ve been a phat fan of her stuff and her new song too, so it was a divine match made in heaven.”
spill tab is the moniker of Claire – singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, part-time tattoo artist, full-time animal lover, and oatmilk connoisseur. Working with her close friend, chief collaborator and production partner marinelli, spill tab launched her musical career, grabbing disparate feelings, sounds, tones, and textures to form her distinctive brand of bedroom-pop, with lyrics in both english and french. Reaching over 20 million streams this past year and taking the cover for Spotify’s beloved Lorem playlist, spill tab has garnered support from the likes of Billboard, Paper, Pigeons & Planes, The FADER and was named in NME’s 100 essential artists for 2021.
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Molly Payton – You Cut Me So Much Slack
Molly explains that ‘You Cut Me So Much Slack’ was the genesis of her coming project Slack, representing a shift in both her mindset and lyricism with a renewed focus on self-reflection and accountability. Molly explains; “‘You Cut Me So Much Slack’ is a song I wrote initially for my EP Porcupine, but decided just before it came out that it fit better in this project. In Porcupine when I wrote about friendships and relationships I was placing a lot of blame on other people, whereas my coming project Slack is more self-reflective and centres around taking responsibility for your own faults in order to grow. My anxiety used to make it almost impossible to communicate and express my feelings to someone, and when I tried it would never come out the way I wanted it to. That’s what this song is driven by, that frustration and desperation of wanting someone but not being able to tell them.”
The thematic shift is one that mirrors Molly’s return to her roots. Originally intended to be a short stay, her time in New Zealand was extended as UK lockdowns prevailed. As well as spending time with the friends and places she left as a teenager, it also fuelled her resolution to reconnect with the memories and tribulations of her past, and process them through her songwriting. Revolving around the adage of looking back in order to move forward, she describes her coming output as “honest, reflective and hopeful.” Her time back home also allowed her to rediscover the catharsis of playing live, with Molly performing a series of full-capacity headline gigs against the backdrop of New Zealand’s low Covid rates and eased restrictions.
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