Sky Ferreira ended 2012 on a high. The critically-worshipped ‘Everything Is Embarrassing’ was easily one of the best songs of the year. Its prominent drums, vulnerable vocals and hazy melody made it potent, ethereal and transcendent. With production from two of the best producers working today – Dev Hynes, aka Blood Orange, (Solange, The Chemical Brothers, Florence and the Machine), and Ariel Rechtshaid (Haim, Solange, Charli XCX, Vampire Weekend, this album) – it represented a promising evolution in Ferreira’s sound.
This advancement into maturity continues with the Gaspar Noé-shot album cover featuring a nude Ferreira in the shower. With this in mind, one would probably expect debut album Night Time, My Time to head into edgier territories. And while there are a couple of tracks here that are gleefully experimental, the instrumentals remain relatively safe.
That being said, Night Time, My Time hosts several great songs. ‘Nobody Asked Me (If I Was Okay)’, for instance, has a punchy singalong chorus that more than satisfies musically. However, it somewhat lacks imagination lyrically. This seems to be the case across a large chunk of the album. It boasts some fantastic tuneful melodies (’24 Hours’, ‘You’re Not The One’, ‘I Blame Myself’) but the songwriting often leaves much to be desired; at best, the lyrics are passable, at worst, they’re questionable (opener ‘Boys’ contains the refrain, “Cross my heart and hope to die / Stick a needle in my eye”) or (like with ‘Nobody Asked Me…’) lazy.
They can also be weird, like on ‘Omanko’ (an obscene Japanese term for the female genitalia). The track possesses an element of art punk, resembling Suicide’s ‘Ghost Rider’ (sampled by M.I.A. on ‘Born Free’), and has a pounding, four to the floor kick drum with relentless fuzzy guitars/synths, where Ferreira sings about a “Japanese Jesus… / …fucking Japanese omanko”. Ferreira is never fully clear in her message, remaining enigmatic but also distant throughout. The song also doesn’t change key, and while the distorted rhythms sound fun, it ends up feeling a little lacking.
Perhaps the best songs on Night Time, My Time are the ones where Ferreira fully embraces her pop credentials and sings accordingly. ‘You’re Not The One’ begins with a drum beat hailing from the days of pop punk before the sunny guitars lead into an anthemic chorus. It’s a big song that has the potential to be a crossover hit. ‘I Blame Myself’ has a funky beat and a joyful piano melody, but it also features some of Ferreira’s strongest singing to date. It works as both a pop record and a showcase.
And while nothing on Night Time, My Time quite reaches the beautifully fragile heights of ‘Everything Is Embarrassing’, ‘Love In Stereo’ perhaps comes the closest. It’s a slice of sweet synthpop with Ferreira sounding bright and relaxed throughout, as well as being one of the highlights of the album.
Most of Night Time, My Time is fairly standard pop rock but it’s infectious and pleasing pop rock. The confidence of Ferreira’s delivery suggests that this is someone who is having fun finding their sound: the album’s mixture of light and dark demonstrates this. After all, at just 21, she is still a fledgling in the business. And while has a lot to learn, most notably in relation to her songwriting, her assurance with a pop song makes her one to watch.