Australian-based indie artist Yen Strange has shared her debut single ‘Donnie Darko’.
Built around a sparse drum machine and palm-muted guitar, the buzzy bedroom pop tune combines a stripped-back indie-pop backing track with gothic imagery of sulking and darkness among the banal realities of everyday life, creating a contrast that feels personal to Strange as an artist and as a human being.
The lyrics of ‘Donnie Darko’ are what really caught my ear. Celebrating not having a body like Miley Cyrus by rummaging through the cookie aisle in search of Oreos, Strange keeps the experiences relatable and grounded even as she’s running from “all the little demons” that surround her. Strange acknowledges being “a little emo” and “just another sad kid weirdo”, but there’s real honesty in the somewhat self-effacing analysis.
“It’s been a crappy few years, and ‘Donnie Darko’ was me coming to terms with the fact that I’m NOT ok and I DO have demons,” Strange explains. “I had, and still have, a pretty mundane life, so it’s easy to fall into patterns of self-hate and depression, I still don’t know how I’m gonna overcome that negative voice in my head. But writing this song and working on it on my train rides from Wollongong to Sydney made me happy for a little while.”
It’s her lyrical inclinations and singular voice that make Strange stand out among a torrent of similar-sounding artists working in the same alt-indie-bedroom pop vein. There’s nothing bad about the musical choices made on ‘Donnie Darko’, but there’s also nothing terribly enrapturing or unique about them either.
I’ve heard this exact same trip hop-lite beat in so many songs that I’m goddamn sick of it, but Strange’s malleable voice and storytelling ability rescue the song from the refuse bin. All in all, it’s a strong start for a new artist who has an incredibly bright future making merry tunes out of misery.
Check out the video for ‘Donnie Darko’ down below.