Is NIKI’s Switchblade the Quarantine Anthem We Needed?
It’s NIKI’s universe, we just live in it
Every interview 88rising star NIKI has done on her latest release—Switchblade, the first single off her debut album Moonchild—links back to the same story. Up at 3AM, writing a song, brain buzzing away in the night. This was the moment that would mark the birth of Moonchild, and if we’re being totally honest, it’s a moment all of us have come to know a little too well in the time of the quarantine.
We nap during the day and stay up at night. We dream of the outside. But since we’re bound to the indoors until further notice, we thrill ourselves thinking about the world we can return to. Or in NIKI’s case, she created one of her own.
NIKI has described the Moonchild universe as a storybook, with this chapter marking the first phase. While she’s made no promises that Switchblade is a reflection of Moonchild’s sound as a whole, stylistically the track takes a refreshing change of course from NIKI’s signature sound. Whereas NIKI has amassed a following for her ultra laid-back, down-to-earth sound, Switchblade propels itself to a different universe altogether.
The song’s intro kicks off with an ambient reel-in, a reverberating beep leading into an ethereal hum that sets the tone for the rest of the track. Hinging heavily on half-spoken, half-sung verses, there’s a cosmic energy to the song that peaks towards the end of the track—or so it seems. Building friction with lingering back-up vocals and the lines, “Lining silver, grass is greener and I’m on my way / brightest flicker, ain’t no quitter, I’ll be here to stay,” the track—almost too suddenly—comes to a stop. A last murmur of the song title and a quick dismount cut sharply through the sound, leaving us looking forward to the next phase of Moonchild to shine on our playlists.
Switchblade is an eye-opening anthem of liberation. Laced with lyrics like, “Take a good look at it girl, take a good look at this world,” and “No one’s a familiar face but I’m not afraid,” there’s a quiet confidence to the track—not unlike the aplomb and staunch faith that kept the songstress anchored as she transitioned from Indonesian cover artist Nicole Zefanya to global sensation NIKI. It’s a prescription for the longing, for the bright-eyed, for the dreamers who can hardly contain their excitement to get up and conquer the world. And maybe, just maybe, that’s the kind of energy we all need after all this.
Art Alex Lara