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Aspiring pop artist Nikki W. recently released her Sad Generation EP online, and while her music clearly has some similarities to her influences (Stevie Nicks, Patti Smith, as well as some more modern comparisons like Lana Del Ray, Florence + The Machine, Regina Spektor, Ellie Goulding, Feist and several others that the description itself lists), Nikki’s EP showcases a unique sound and an experimentation with instruments that is all her own and is extremely fascinating to listen to.
Unfortunately, while the unique composition of her songs draws interest, the lyrics and subject matter of the songs are somewhat cliché and orthodox, creating a jarring juxtaposition and making the EP somewhat disappointing as a result.
Like a movie script, I assert that the quality of lyrics can make or break a song. While many songs can talk about the same subject matter of struggling with expectations or lost/found love, a truly great song stands proud and unique simply due to a creative use of diction to set itself apart from it’s peers. Lou Reed’s bizarre lyrics, for example draw interest due to their use of shockingly bizarre imagery in the same sentence as the banal and everyday, creating a shock to the senses.
Unfortunately, Nikki W.’s lyrics – which she co-wrote with producer Gavin Brown (who also worked with Lady Gaga) – do not really leave much for the imagination for the most part.
The worst offenders are “Superman” and “The Sad Generation,” with the former coming across as a tad simplistic (reminding me of the infamous opening lines of Hoobastank’s “The Reason”), while the latter is simply a retread of other songs commenting on the vapid and emotional distraught nature of today’s youth in a vein similar to Lorde's “Royals.”
I didn’t find it interesting or incisive when Lorde did it, and my view has not changed with Nikki W.’s attempt at it. While no fault of Nikki W. herself, simply saying the world is vapid and emotionally distraught has almost become vapid in itself. I think Nikki W. is definitely capable of more incisive lyrics and commentary, showcasing the “emotional honesty and wisdom beyond her years” mentioned on the EP’s description. Unfortunately, I just don’t think it’s really on display here.
However, while the lyrics and subject matter leave a bit to be desired, I must insist that the EP is not bad. I would still say that people should listen and buy it simply due to the unique sound that Nikki W. brings to each song. While some bands or artists somehow make every song sound the same, Nikki W. changes her entire style from song to song.
She can experiment with a harsh guitar and chimes in single “Transparent Hands” then change a country sound in the beginning “Sad Generation," finally switching to a lonely and melancholy string orchestra and piano in “Darkness.” She even changes the way she sings, almost making me think I was listening to someone else entirely. Nikki W. clearly has an understanding of sound that I could not even fathom, and displays her knowledge and talent proudly.
The clear star of the EP is the single “Transparent Hands.” With its thumping drums and chimes, as well as an echoing guitar and Nikki W.’s hauntingly detached vocals, it is definitely the most unique track on the album. While it is a song about finding a new love, the song has a strangely aggressive tone to it, and it’s a juxtaposition that wholly benefits the song.
While I enjoyed the other songs on the EP, “Transparent Hands” was the song I listened to on repeat while writing this review and will definitely be buying.
The EP will be released on iTunes on July 29, and is currently on Soundcloud.