2013 feels distant, just far away enough for our memories of middle school—and what we considered cool—to grow hazy around the edges. If you need a refresher, remember this: 2013 was the year sad–girl pop gained legitimacy. It was the year Lana Del Rey broke through the mainstream, infiltrating Tumblr with quotes ringing with depressed existentialism and radio waves with moody vibrato. It was the year of Electra Heart, Marina and the Diamonds' concept album about how being a persona erodes every fiber of the self. 2013, most notably, however, was the year Sky Ferreira sulked her way into the indie scene. It was also the year she left it.
Sky Ferreira creates the kind of pop that plays in the background of an existential crisis, which made her debut album Night Time, My Time something of a shrine to coming–of–age. Released when she was 21, the 46–minute–long album details exactly who Ferreira wasn’t—the next coming of Britney, the Courtney Love to a D–list Kurt Cobain, the Kate Moss of a new era—and who she hoped to be, which wasn’t quite clear yet. Chock full of atmospheric instrumentals and vocals that whines and whispers, Night Time, My Time, captures exactly what it feels like to grow with anxieties and aspirations that cut across one another.
Hit singles like “Everything is Embarrassing,” which melds a heavy backdrop of 80s–themed synths with airy verses of regrets to create a quiet banger, and “Nobody Asked Me (If I Was Okay),” which begs to be screamed into a hairbrush in front of your childhood mirror, cemented her as the princess of indie music. Photos of her always–windblown, bleach blonde hair and penetrating, vacant stare littered Instagram and Tumblr. Critics adored her, touting her as the voice of a generation teeming with angry, teenage energy. It was in this frenzy she teased her second album, Masochism, for a summer 2015 release. And then a 2016 release. And then no release at all.
Until now. Ferreira claims that, in 2019, Masochism will finally be heard. This is the year Ferreira re–emerges to gain her spot in the aristocracy of indie—and she’s doing it on her own terms. Never having learned to formally read music or play instruments, Ferreira worked on her upcoming second album with the frantic energy of a creative director, visualizing a sound and mood that only she can touch and others can re–create. The product of a back–and–forth between producers Tamaryn and Jorge Elbrecht promises a high contrast between Twin Peaks–level sullen and bedroom pop perfection.
Its first single, “Downhill Lullaby” is a track that lurches well past the five–minute mark into the morose, with a string section that paints Ferreira's imagery of a relationship that does nothing but destroy with orchestral melodrama. It’s big and impactful, making the song appropriate for a return teased for six years. Meant to sound like “one of the birds from Snow White, singing under water, while slowly being suffocated by plastic,” it feels both otherworldly and wholly proximate, bringing the listener closer to Ferreira than anything from her first album.
As for that hiatus, it’s the side effect of her quest for autonomy and authenticity. Set against the backdrop of label disputes over ownership, Ferreira wants Masochism to represent the slow–burn of self discovery. “I refuse to put out something that isn’t honest. It’s not something that I can force out,” she wrote in a 2016 Instagram post. “[It] needs to be pretty/ugly/everything/nothing.” With expectations like that, it’s no wonder the album still isn’t here. Ferreira wants the album to be everything to everyone, and while lofty, it's an aspiration that resonates with fans, however impatient they’ve grown.
So, what can listeners hope to hear on Masochism? A supernova of emotion, collaging everything Ferreira and the universe has experienced over the past years. It’s slated to be both a return to the candid aura of her debut and a departure from it, with bolder sounds and quieter sentiments. Mostly, it’s supposed to offer more Ferreira than ever before.