Saturday, July 20, 2024

Barbie Almalbis confronts deep pain and longing on eclectic new song “Desperate Hours”

Barbie Almalbis confronts deep pain and longing on eclectic new song “Desperate Hours”

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After collaborating with indie-folk band Munimuni on “Tupa” and co-headlining the Mist Music Festival in Canada, Barbie Almalbis gears up for a new era in music with the release of her new song “Desperate Hours.”


Produced by La Ball’s resident arranger and studio whiz Nick Lazaro, who has done exemplary work for artists such as Clara Benin and BP Valenzuela, “Desperate Hours” serves as the first official single off Barbie’s upcoming fifth studio album, to be released at the end of the year.


Coming across as an innovative tour de force in the mold of Bjork, Melanie Martinez, and St. Vincent, Almalbis’ avant-pop track refuses any easy categorization but unravels quite literally and figuratively as her most experimental work to date. Here, the two unlikely collaborators play around with unconventional guitar riffs, loose structures, and oddly charming noises, while showcasing an uncompromising vision that’s far from anything that Almalbis has released so far. It sounds like pop music in the strictest sense of the word, but not the type that is bound by rules and limitations.  


“I’ve dreamt of doing something like this for years but didn’t have the knowledge and courage, so meeting Nick has been a godsend, because producing this way is something that seems to come so easily for him,” said the alternative rock icon. “It’s also a lot of work. He made me sing hard, do crow sounds, explosions, portamentos, and ‘witchy’ voices, and though it felt a little weird at times, I think it actually sounds good in context.”


Apart from the sonic bombast and unthinkable surprises, Almalbis’ poetic songwriting shines even more on “Desperate Hours,” where she penned material in a time of deep pain and longing. According to the Dahilan act, the song was written during a very challenging point in her life, when she was going through anxiety and emotional struggles, while having a hard time figuring out where it was coming from.  


“I couldn’t understand much about what I was going through, but I knew I needed to lean on God, and also sought the help of ‘last resort’ friends—like a last hope, “break-glass-in-case-of-emergency” kind of friends,” Almalbis reveals. “One day, things were beginning to get better, and I had a bit of clarity. I woke up early and wrote the pre-chorus: I can feel the rescuer…finally the war is over. It was actually more a song of faith, and soon enough, this struggle will indeed be over. Then it happened that later that morning, I was doing some reading and came across Psalm 18. I was surprised to find that it was about the same topic and even used similar metaphors. It really made me feel like I was on the right track, and so the psalm became a guide to finishing the rest of the song.”


Kate Bush and Bjork easily come to mind when listeners hear “Desperate Hours” for the first time, but there’s so much more to its quirks than meets the eye. 


“I’m almost always not trying to achieve anything,” Almalbis shares. “I’m not a planner. I really just try to follow my curiosity as an artist and express how I feel at the moment. I think Bjork and Kate Bush are very emotional writers, and I surely have listened to them a bunch over the years, so their musical ideas are definitely floating around in my brain. To be doing music that’s kind of similar to them makes me feel like I’m going in the right direction as an artist.”


Barbie Almalbis’ “Desperate Hours” is out now on all digital music platforms worldwide.