by Mike Scarfo
Just before our six month hiatus, Valley Grl was an artist I had the pleasure of getting to know about, particularly through her mesmerizing EP SORRY YOU COULDN'T MAKE IT... which released in mid-April. The California-native's tantalizing combination of unapologetic authenticity and free-spirited angst connected with me in a rather unique way. Perhaps it's simply the fact that I am rounding the end of my twenties, and on some level I miss what a carefree Friday night as a twenty-one year old feels like.
And yet Valley Grl manages to achieve lyrical depth by deglamorizing all the binge-drinking and drug use. In fact, there's an overarching criticism in her music of this paralyzing lifestyle that seemingly has her lost in a constant loop of self-deprecation and depression.
I often hear similar sentiments from local Massachusetts artist dev soter, someone I've hailed on this platform (as many others have, too) as an up-and-coming gem in the indie scene. His recent collaboration with Valley Grl sonically makes sense on paper, with "IF I WANT TO" resulting in an anthemic statement of nonconformity and self-awareness.
"IF I WANT TO" begins with Valley Grl's sullen hypnotic cadence, reinforcing the unwillingness to back down from her true authentic self regardless of who is critiquing her. The hook suddenly enters in thunderous fashion, backed by spacey synths and vibrant guitar chords. She delivers potent vocals dripping in eclectic reverb, creating a soundscape errant of contemporary mainstream music. The song immediately captures elements of emo pop and hip-hop, a sound that has become quite a staple thus far for Valley Grl. A major credit to Nobu Sounds and our guy H3x for production and engineering on this track, respectively.
The tonal shift in the second half is the arguably the song's most glaring instrumental moment; dev soter's rhythmic inflections flow harmoniously with the addition of a punk-inspired drum progression. Its rich hi-hats are both raw and textured. As quickly as dev influences the track, it abruptly shifts back to Valley Grl, a feeling of revival in her tone that is much bolder than the song's initial effort. Dev's interlude serves to further inspire and validate Valley Grl's frustration, which becomes apparent through her heightened vocal energy in the track's concluding act. It is a song that lasts long enough to inflict an ardent, passionate reaction, while simultaneously leaving the audience begging for more.
Check out "IF I WANT TO" for yourself, available to stream on all platforms