K.Flay acts on her new sense of purpose with ‘MONO’

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Recommended Tracks: “Irish Goodbye”, “Hustler”, “Spaghetti”
Artists You May Like:
UPSAHL, Royal & the Serpent, girli

When we go to bed at night, there is an assumption that nothing out of the ordinary will happen. We anticipate that the night will go smoothly with no unusual appearances from ghosts or unexpected illnesses, and the next morning will commence as it did the day before. So, when you wake up and find that something has changed, it can be jarring. Last year, genre-bending artist K.Flay woke up one morning to find that she had total hearing loss in her right ear. The doctors could not explain what happened, leaving her to adjust on her own. It made her wonder if she should continue making music, but when she returned to the studio to complete her new album, she knew what she had to do. With a fresh sense of purpose, she was motivated to put everything she could into MONO, making it as great as possible.

The album unfolds with “Are You Serious?” which breaks down her diagnosis and the many ways it made her feel. She speak-sings, “Woke up on a Saturday / Deaf in my right ear / I was dizzy and disoriented / Vertigo severe / All the doctors said the cause was just some mystery unknown” and “I can’t wake up from this dream / This madness, my reality / I clench my teeth and grind my teeth / As something breaks inside of me.” With the hysteria in her voice and the accelerating background riff, we can understand how unnerving this was, how this sudden, unexplainable shift in reality was severely overwhelming. As we get further into the album, we encounter more songs of this magnitude that dive into K.Flay’s internal thoughts and overall commentary on herself. There is the self-deprecating “Punisher,” where K.Flay sings through deadpan vocals, “Nobody knows how to punish me like me,” the lyrics jumping out against the electric guitar riffs and gritty beats. But even though she has a low tolerance for her actions, she embraces who she is on “Perfectly Alone,” accepting that she can count on herself when needed.

One of the more revealing tracks, though, is “Yes I’m Serious.” At nearly five minutes, it is the longest song on the album, but it packs a punch the whole way through. K.Flay opens with, “My greatest fear is mediocrity / I wanna be the shit,” before going through the parallels she faces, the pressures, the fears, the determination, the defeat… Her rap skills are in full effect here, the words pouring out with no time to process all that is being shared. There is a lot going on, so there are moments when she slows down and gives extra attention to certain lines like, “I was confusing a numbness for comfort / Abandoned myself when I slipped under cover / Surrendering limits but longing for structure / Developing habits and lusting for hunger / Selling out packed shows and missing my mother / Smiling at assholes and feeling outnumbered,” these conflicting thoughts and emotions summarizing the plot of the track. After it ends, it still takes a while to sift through what just occurred, its style and content leaving a lasting impression.

And impressions are significant to K.Flay, especially when it comes to relationships. She showcases different sides to relationships throughout MONO, tapping into the pain or joy that they bring. On “Irish Goodbye,” for instance, she teams up with Vic Fuentes from Pierce The Veil for a cool and confident send-off to someone who didn’t treat her right. Its playful melodies and hazy breakdowns are a contrast to the dark piano ballad sounds of “Hustler,” which gets into the betrayal and hurt that K.Flay felt when she found out her partner was cheating. We know that she values honesty, but it can be hard to find – especially when it comes to asking someone out. As we hear on alt-pop banger “Shy,” she can’t bring herself to open up to a crush. She sings, “I’m wild, but I’m shy” and “I wanna get you close, but I don’t know how,” her desires left to burn. It suggests that love can make you act beside yourself, as found on “Chaos Is Love.” There is a cosmic vibe that comes through on this softer track, the lack of distortion and thrashy effects giving it a chance to harness the magical combination of those three words. K.Flay sings, “You spun me around like your new bride / And told me that chaos is love,” embracing its strange ways.

In the end, MONO is one hell of a ride. As a co-producer on the album, K.Flay was able to give it dimension, depth – elements that are more associated with the “stereo” than the “mono” system. She creates duality from one song to the next, whether it’s in the political and social commentary on “In America” or through the mellowed-out, summery vibes of “Spaghetti.” And this variety can also be found in the way she combines inward thoughts and outward actions, or in her expressions of fear, love, anger, and strength. Overall, MONO is a fierce result of the mindset K.Flay had when working on the project – “…there are no rules when it comes to creating. It’s all just a matter of having faith in your own perspective and taste and making sure you stay authentic to that.”

You can listen to MONO on platforms like Apple Music, Spotify, and SoundCloud.

Catch K.Flay on her upcoming UK/EU tour here.

Keep up with K.Flay: Instagram // Facebook // Twitter // TikTok // YouTube // Website

Christine Sloman
Christine Slomanhttps://linktr.ee/christine.sloman
Writer for Melodic Mag since 2018. Music lover since always.

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