Australian indie artist ELKI cuts right to the chase in her new single “Nightmare.” We usually get a musical introduction from artists before they dive into the lyrics. Not so with ELKI. Immediately ELKI begins to tell a story in which insecurity and hope collide to the tune of a soft beach-pop number.
The combination of an upbeat melody and melancholy lyrics is not what makes “Nightmare” unique. This tactic is oh-so-typical of the indie pop genre. The thing that separates “Nightmare” from the rest of the genre is ELKI. When indie pop bands create music that bops, I find that male vocalists typically take the lead. In my experience I hear most female vocalists staying in a pocket of slow-moving ballads. Even when females make the attempt at quicker pacing, they tend to maintain a nostalgic ethereal vibe.
ELKI breaks from that mold and is just fun. She keeps a bright tone while still showcasing her vocal depth, pairing her vocals perfectly with the message of the song.
It was a nightmare
Honey, where are you?
Hold me and say it isn’t true (Where are you)
You’re so far away but I know someday
You’ll come home and start anew
Although the lyrics reveal a need for affirmation, the melody maintains its energy. You could almost stop paying attention there and just bop along to the music until the pre-chorus drags you back in like the undertow. This is where the typical female indie pop ethereal movement comes in, yet only for a moment. But in my opinion, it arrives at just the right time.
This can’t be happening to me
The moon is causing up trouble
You silly stupid thing
In this turn of phrase, ELKI switches up the pacing a bit. She breaks free from the previously strict beat of the melody and indulges her emotion. With a soulful turn, she blames the moon, probably on two counts—once for affecting the tides that take her love away in her nightmare and again for signalling the night in which the bad dream occurs. Again we hear a short bopping chorus before a low bridge with primitive undertones. ELKI slows down and briefly dials back on the instrumentation to bring attention to the severity of fear in the situation but quickly regains composure and vitality.
ELKI clearly knows how to have a good time musically. And even more importantly, she knows exactly how and when to seamlessly change her tone and mood. “Nightmare” is definitely going on my playlist. This Australian artist and genius has found yet another fan in the United States.
Image credit: Alex Shute Photography