Recommended Tracks: “Hospital Beds”, “21”, “Nice Guys”
Artists You May Like: Caroline Romano, Lauren Spencer Smith, Lizzy McAlpine
It’s crazy to think that only a year and a half ago, Madisyn Gifford dropped her debut album, I hate ur guts. The 14-track release focused on the aftermath of a breakup, touching on the complicated matters of missing that person but knowing that things are better without their drama. Through it all, we learned a few things about Madisyn, such as her strengths and her insecurities, and we became better acquainted with her voice and overall artistry. A few months after the release, she began rolling out new material, eager to begin the next chapter of her story. These singles showcased a confident, bolder side of Madisyn that was looming under the surface of her debut album, preparing us for the release of her sophomore album, Sleeping on the Ceiling. With Sleeping on the Ceiling, Madisyn shares how she has grown since the last time we heard from her, giving us her most real, most honest project yet.
Throughout Sleeping on the Ceiling, Madisyn tells her own coming-of-age story, which involves some relationship setbacks. We heard plenty about this on her debut, but of course, relationships are always going to be emotional topics of discussion. On “Still Hurts,” she describes her hoarding habits, and her tendency to get too attached. With a heavy spirit, she sings, “I still got that guitar pick / I think you know the one,” before revealing that it has maintained residency on her desk for three years – and counting. In the end, she wants to let go of all this hurt, as we also hear on “Executioner.” She ruminates over an ex on this acoustic-based ballad, wondering if the next girl will be “enough” for him or will feel “loved” by him. As she envisions that relationship, she also accepts whatever opinions may come out of it by singing, “Tell ‘em all I’m crazy / Just don’t forget / You made me that way.” Madisyn refuses to accept her own undoing, which also comes across on “Nice Guys.” Over layers of acoustic guitar and strings, she gives a straightforward analysis of what it is like to date in today’s world, singing, “Getting all dressed up just to cry in bed / Can you spell humiliating?” It is all about how guys can start out nice and gain your trust before ghosting, Madisyn quipping, “I guess that’s what the nice guys do.”
As she navigates these relationships, Madisyn also navigates her own relationship with herself. On the moody “Clapping Lights,” she pairs the troubling thoughts she has about herself with soft alt-rock music. It gets into her mental health, Madisyn explaining, “Wish someone would invent clapping lights to turn off the shit inside my head,” the toned-down production emphasizing her statements. With “Dancing on this Line,” Madisyn also acknowledges her mental health and the way it affects her behavior. Over spunky strums of the electric guitar, she sings, “Eat my feelings / Smash my phone / Say ‘I hate you’ to my mom / I don’t know who that just was,” wanting to figure herself out. She finds the time to reflect on “Parking Lots,” where she is “Driving laps illegally around the parking lot / Smoking out the window,” testing the boundaries. She observes, “Falling apart is easier when you have yourself to blame,” but there are moments on the track where she also finds that she is responsible for her own evolution, her own growth.
After all, progress involves highs and lows. Luckily, Madisyn has been able to identify these highs along her coming-of-age journey. On tracks like “Hospital Beds” and “Prettiest Bitch,” she pokes fun at herself, calling out the way she sabotages herself and has all her issues out on display. Still, she owns this part of herself, knowing that she is worth all the attention, all the love. Basically, she just cares a lot about herself but mostly others, which comes through on “For Shaughnessy.” This is a very tender moment on the album, as Madisyn opens up about her best friend. Over an intimate production, she sings, “I think you might just be the warmest place I’ve ever known” and “A million Polaroids couldn’t catch you if they tried,” establishing how important this person means to her. On the closing track, “We’ll Sleep Fine,” Madisyn continues to expand on her friendships. It is a quiet and contemplative song, almost as if we are with Madisyn at a sleepover. She uses this time to get away and let go, grateful to have others by her side to help her do so. It is a firm close to the album, a solid response to the dreamy title track that kicks off the project.
Overall, Sleeping on the Ceiling is a very personal, abstract look at Madisyn’s coming-of-age story. When discussing the album, she explained that her goal “was to write songs that scared me,” wanting to confront anything that was holding her back. She has definitely gone to cryptic places on this project, but she has also reached new heights. With this album, Madisyn proves that healthy relationships and situations can be just as meaningful as the ones that are difficult. We may not be able to understand where Madisyn comes from or figure out exactly who she is always singing about, like on “Last Name,” but her journey is universal. Everyone has to grow up at some point, and Sleeping on the Ceiling is here to make that growth a little more comfortable.
You can listen to Sleeping on the Ceiling on platforms like Apple Music, and Spotify.