Darkness rules on Sky Ferreira’s cinematic new song ‘Downhill Lullaby’

The pop outsider's first release in six years feels like the beginning of an ambitious new era

Six years in the making, and delayed by various disputes and disagreements – not to mention a meticulous creative process that doesn’t bend to the whims of time – Sky Ferreira’s second record ‘Masochism’ has been a long time coming. This first taster of the LA artist’s next chapter – and make no mistake, ‘Downhill Lullaby’ feels like the beginning of an ambitious new era – doesn’t disappoint, either.

Steeped in darkness, there’s an unsettlingly eerie quality that lurks in its veins. Interpolating distinctive orchestral hints of The Verve, Sky Ferreira’s very own bittersweet symphony takes the darker, more abrasive moments of her debut album ‘Night Time, My Time’ and, lets the shadow roam. Though it’s easy to read ‘Downhill Lullaby’ as a sort of poisoned love song – you ripped me open, then you kiss me,” she quietly snarls – it also taps into a vaguer sense of uneasiness; according to Ferreira it taps into a fear of lakes. “It always feels like something will grab you and pull you under,” she told Pitchfork,  speaking about the track’s background.

Giving direction to Danish violinist Nils Gröndahl, who provides the yearning undercurrent of strings on ‘Downhill Lullaby’, Sky Ferreira added that she gave him the following note: “Play it as if you’re one of the birds in Snow White, singing underwater, while slowly being suffocated by plastic”. And incredibly, it’s a quality that comes across in the finished work; there’s a cinematic sinking sensation here, like a paper boat slowly submitting to water and folding down into the depths of a jet-black lake.

Produced alongside Dean Hughes – series music supervisor for Twin Peaks – ‘Downhill Lullaby’ is saturated and disorientating in a similar way to David Lynch’s cult show; incidentally, Ferreira starred in the 2017 reboot. Anguished and lusciously textured, pained and seductive all at the same time, Ferreira’s  return serves as proof that exceptional things can come to those who wait.