It opens with this cute, candid giggle and you’re immediately infatuated. Without My Enemy What Would I Do (on point title, right?) is MADE IN HEIGHTS’ newest album and I’ve had it on loop almost constantly for the past 24 hours. The perfect part is that it’s suited every activity in that time frame—from cleaning turnover apartments for work to editing my father’s first novel to playing “Ello Governor” with some friends.
The elusive (it’s actually amazing how little information the Internet holds on them) duo describe their genre on Facebook as “mythical filth :: pop fiction :: beauty slap :: goon lit :: artisanal (c/t)rap :: west coast gothic”. And though Kelsey Bulkin sounds like a woodland nymph, you certainly don’t need to be one to get down with this album. Or a monster or a gangster or a sad kid hiding from the sun. But, you know, if you are, more power to you. MADE IN HEIGHTS makes sexy music. Over Sabzi’s spacey beats, Bulkin’s light, high voice soars. Think Grimes meets FKA twigs meets Broods.
But, unlike those other artists who’ve mastered the sexy sad-girl sound, it’s not an album of sad-girl songs. There certainly are a fair share of those and they slay. (The obvious, “Cry”: You make the stars fall down//Fall from the sky like the 4th of July//You make my tears come down”.) There’s also “Slow Burn”, a quicker paced, hot and heavy tune that’ll get you slow, seductive dancing—or looking like a fool if you’re me and have zero coordination— to get a youthful, unique man like the one she sings about. And then you’ve got a jam like “Murakami”, which has a killer drop mid-song. Still, every one of these songs has their signature sound of killer beats and ethereal vocals.
When you come across such a solid sound, it’s easy to forget about lyrics, but MADE IN HEIGHTS doesn’t fool around there either. The opening track, “Death”, kills it immediately with: Don’t fall for the blame//don’t rely on the applause. Then you’ve got “Panther”, which was their first single off this album and released back in November; a song about a fast and furious relationship. She slows it down, though, in the second verse, singing:
Got nobody on my mind, go and search my thoughts
Only you on my riverbanks
Throw my hours on your line, no need to rush
Pour my love down to make it rain
Good stuff, right? However, my favorite lyrics are from the song, “Forgiveness”. I know what you’re thinkin’, tricky subject, let’s not even go there. They handle it so well, though. The song seems to be more about self- and situational-forgiveness (something I’ve actually been working on recently; time=perspective and know that sometimes ya just gotta let things go). Bulkin takes a look at a past relationship and, with the new distance, sees it for what it was: troubled. To forgive, you have to accept the reality of the situation. And she starts that process here:
Cause feelings that you’ve never known
Aren’t my fault
I keep my words sweet
And bathe then I lay low
‘Round we go, and the lights are low
And the circus fades, you were always carouseling
All the circles trace, as I turn my page
And you hear the bass, over words I was yellin’
If you’ve been there too, you can’t tell me this doesn’t speak to your tormented soul. And still, the whole time you’re listening to this song, you’re feeling all dancey and can’t resist the bouncy tune. I dig that.
So next time you want that sad-girl, sexy sound, but could use something that’ll get you moving (suddenly “mythical filth and west coast gothic” are making more sense), plug in to the newest MADE IN HEIGHTS. Who knows, it could give you the courage to take your time and enjoy what may be a fleeting relationship or to finally forgive and put behind you that destined-to-be-doomed one. Either way, these two will make you feel both vulnerable and fly as hell as you jam out. What’s not to love?