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Katie Dey: mydata

There are few electronic indie poppers who can sound so minimal but yet so elaborate as Katie Dey. On her fourth release since 2015, the Melbourne solo artist has finally hit her true stride with mydata. This time around, Dey merges her love of bright, colorful arrangements with her quietly chaotic vocals. It’s this marriage that seemed to be missing from her previous records, and something she only skimmed the surface with last year’s Solipsisters, a record that garnered her some much overdue attention.

The highlight of Solipsisters was unquestionably “Stuck,” which mydata seems to have bloomed from, composition wise. Every track here feels reflective of that aesthetic, dismissing the garbled vocals that were a mainstay of the project and instead finding that perfect balance with a cleanliness that makes Dey’s voice pop more. This is ever present right from the get-go on album opener “darkness,” as Dey proclaims “I wanna be a far-out satellite/so I can hear your brain waves coming.”

Lyrically, mydata is roughly still in the same vein as previous works, echoing feelings of isolation which is fitting thanks to the current state of quarantine in 2020, despite Dey stating her latest is not a reflection on COVID-19. But the heart of the record relies on an internet relationship, one that we can surmise had its ups and downs via title like “happiness,” “hurting,” “hopeless” and “loving.” This is a long-distance relationship causing love and turmoil; “Inside I am unbounded/ Constantly unraveling/ There must be a place I can go,” she pleads on “dancing,” showing vulnerability in this unpredictable romance.

There’s also hope, though; despite the title “hopeless,” Dey sings thoughtfully, “Remember to recharge your hope/ When your battery gets low/ Cuz nobody’s gonna do that for you.” There have been countless quarantine albums released focusing not just on love and relationships but isolation and uncertainty, but Dey seems to feel more in-tune with her audience than most. “happiness” is no doubt the strongest of Dey’s abilities on display, in which she exposes herself entirely. “I want love/ I’m not above it” is her statement of desire and self-love, as she croons through glitch-inflected pianos, “I want life while I’m alive” and “I want life with less pain.”

mydata is Dey’s strongest album to date. She enlists a variety of glitch-pop wonderment and mixes them all with affective synths. This enrichment makes this go-round more personal too, creating a strong backdrop for the subject matter. But even when there are no lyrics, it’s impactful, like on the instrumental “loving,” which just has a series of “ahhhs” from Dey, coupled with beats and pianos smashing together.

If mydata has one flaw, it’s a homogeneity. There’s very little deviation from Dey’s script here, no moment to catapult her to the level of compatriots like Alex G or even Animal Collective (her music even feels like a hodgepodge of those two influences). This is a huge leap from her messy debut asdfasdf, and while Dey has matured, she hasn’t diversified her samples or style to incorporate anything louder than a whisper. It feels just like the relationship she shares with us: disconnected, muddied and without a pulse to cling to.

Katie Dey has found the right balance for her brand of glitch-pop, but despite the focus on relationships, it feels disconnected.
75 %
Glitch-pop wonderment
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