Soft pastels are juxtaposed against tropical twangs and flickers of light burst through on “Cut Me Off” by Madeline Kenney. The song is set on a soft palette but waves of vivid motion pull bright moments across, like the brain reacting to first-glimpsed beauty. The track possesses a quintessential indie pop essence while also managing to push limits in a way that reminds of the DIrty Projector’s Bitte Orca. It’s cool, effective, and sinks in easy, but the impression lasts.
Kenney burst onto the scene in 2016 with the release of her debut EP, Signals. She followed that up with a stunning LP, Night Night at the First Landing, and now she has announced her sophomore LP, Perfect Shapes, will be out this October.
Just from album titles alone, it’s clear that Kenney’s mind is interested in form. She plays with pop delicately, pushing the edges at intentional moments that give the time-honored a fresh feel. She is detailed oriented, but interested in the reaction, the interaction, what comes through the fog.
All of this isn’t much of a surprise coming from a former neuroscience major. Kenney has always been sharp, and on the first track from her sophomore effort, she seems like she has only become more comfortable with her vast variety of tools. Perhaps this is because she stepped away from Chazwick Bradley Bundick, aka Toro y Moi, who produced her debut EP and LP. Instead, she opted to work with Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner.
Wasner felt like the music spoke to her as well, saying about the first time she heard the music that make up the forthcoming album, “Hearing her words felt like someone whispering in my ear the contents of my own mind… This was my first time producing music other than my own, and it was one of the only times I’ve ever experienced working exclusively with women. And it was a creative experience unlike any I’ve ever had.”
Perfect Shapes is said to address “femininity, societal pressures, expectation, value and self-worth,” according to a press release. And on “Cut Me Off”, Kenney takes some of these ideas head on. She starts off by singing, “It’s a big push to the side, I know because I’m trying / And I thought you lied, and I know ‘cause I’m lying / So don’t cut me off, I’m in my own time.” Immediately, it’s clear, the Seattle-born singer isn’t afraid to make the moment hers, and she does so by demanding it, but also by giving a piece of herself. She is willing to show what she has to offer, while also commanding recognition, and she rightly deserves it.
On “Cut Me Off”, Kenney shows that she is a presence to be reckoned with by discussing big ideas with her words and reflecting those thoughts within her sounds. She is pushing listeners to swim deeper, while also playing within a style they find comfortable. There are moments throughout the first track where she challenges pop and gets listeners thinking. And its those colorful bursts juxtaposed against the song’s soft, pretty palette that make it something unique.
Perfect Shapes is out October 5th.
HURRY – PREORDER – MADELINE KENNEY