Sky Ferreira has been taking her time — more than five years, to be exact. That’s how long it’s been since her 2013 debut, Night Time, My Time, a riotous alt-pop dream that raised major expectations for her long-promised follow-up. Her new single, “Downhill Lullaby,” is our first glimpse of the album she’s titled Masochism, and her first chance to deliver on half a decade of promises and hopes. You can hear her careful construction and undiminished ambitions in every second of the song.
Ferreira hasn’t been totally silent since Night Time, My Time. She’s dabbled in acting (Twin Peaks, Baby Driver) and released a couple of covers, including an exceptional take on Til Tuesday’s “Voices Carry.” All those projects feel like preludes to the baroque gothic mood she creates on “Downhill Lullaby.” She worked on the song with Twin Peaks music supervisor Dean Hurley, who helps her summon an ambient orgy of strings and spooky effects. Her smoky voice — serving up one of her finest and most melodramatic performances yet — battles with the eerie cacophony around her. The lyrics are violent and opaque: “You ripped me open, then you kiss me/Blue lips and roses that you left me.”
“Downhill Lullaby” shouldn’t set total expectations for Masochism: Ferreira tweeted earlier this month that this track is quite unlike the many pop songs to be featured on the LP. Even when she’s making anti-pop songs, there is something sticky about them that is hard to shake for hours after after listening.