Somewhere on California’s Highway 99, a young singer opens her iPhone’s voice memo app and starts recording new ideas for an album.
The result is a collection of heart-on-sleeve stories that’ll become letters from the 99, the debut album of indie-pop artist PKAY.
PKAY started writing her own music after a breakup when she was eighteen.
Since then, she’s been pouring out her emotions, transforming them into raw stories we can all empathize with – combining a feeling of vulnerability with the vibrant energy of modern alt-pop. In her single “pls call me”, PKAY tells us a story about a love that ended but left something unfinished within her.
It’s not a sad or angry breakup song; it’s more of a nostalgic and mournful one:
In the end, it was my decision to leave”
PKAY sings in the chorus, transmitting an aching, longing feeling to the listener.
Here’s the thing: From the first line of “pls call me”, you know what’s coming.
Anyone who’s ever experienced an unsuccessful relationship knows how it feels – often, it’s a familiar path, one that carries a feeling of inevitability almost from the beginning. But it’s the way that PKAY narrates her story that makes it feel so real. There’s longing here, but there’s also a sense of maturity that makes the listener empathize with the artist as she is now – a person who’s longing and looking back.
Sonically, the track is a soft, piano ballad, with melodic lines that seem to call on folklore-era Taylor Swift. It’s a percussion-free song, though its innate rhythm and PKAY’s dynamic voice are enough to create a haunting atmosphere that pushes the music forward.
The ending line, “If you hear this, please call me”, is a powerful conclusion; it’s almost like you’re really on the other side of the line, listening to PKAY’s voice message.
And maybe that’s the most accurate experience a listener can have, considering how PKAY brought the album to life.
Bottom line – if you enjoy music like Nina Nesbitt and Olivia Rodrigo, then keep your eyes and ears on PKAY. She writes melodic, story-driven pop in the same vein as the current crop of superstars – and she does it beautifully.
You can listen to “pls call me” and the complete album letters from the 99 on Spotify.