When I discover an amazing record, I’m prone to want to deep-dive. Immediately after immersing myself in it, I try to capture in words why the hell said record is worth someone’s time. In the end, that’s exactly what most music writing comes down to.
Sometimes, though, that kind of dissection is the rock-writer equivalent of movie spoilers. The best songs’ll often hit you on a primal level that’s amplified by going in cold.
I mention all of this because of “Machete (Song for Jackson),” the remarkable new single by Seattle singer ARCHIE that we’re premiering exclusively here at Artist Home. If you’ve read this far, stop reading and listen. Seriously. Then read on.
Done listening? Good. Haven’t listened yet? Music-geek spoilers below.
There’s at least one great side-effect of living in an age where music creation and consumption are so accelerated: an artist’s evolution can accelerate at lightning speed, too. That type of evolution’s in full flower on “Machete.”
Since her first single, “Help Me,” premiered at KEXP in February of last year, ARCHIE (formerly PSA, aka Pop Star Archie) has rapidly forged a following by way of two high-profile Capitol Hill Block Party sets, and appearances in videos by Macklemore and Shabazz Palaces among others. Her 2018 EP Debutante was an irresistible handful of great party jams, rendered in day-glo eighties colors. Raucous and promising as Debutante was, though, the level of growth from there to “Machete” is staggering.
“Machete” continues on the more sophisticated tip repped by ARCHIE’s last single, “Summation.” On Debutante, ARCHIE’s voice was another very cool, smoothed-out instrument in the mix. Here, her voice is disarmingly intimate and unadorned. And “Machete” boasts her most nuanced lyrics yet.
She works through having psychically lacerated a lover, realizing the damage that happens when her temper runs rampant (“I am self e-ware enough to know I cut deep/When I’m stressin’ and aggressive and I’m too afraid to think”). And by the end of the song, she’s shown her well of strength and self-awareness by apologizing, and admitting how much that lover’s created a safe, enriching space for her (“You make me wanna be myself”).
That’s some deep emotional undertow for a pop song, and the alluring production by Ølsten bypasses Debutante’s straightforward arrangements in favor of glitchiness and complexity that still remain hooky as hell. Atop it all is ARCHIE’s singing—warm, deceptively relaxed, and able to traverse from heavy-lidded sensuality to redemptive soaring by the track’s end. Rarely has someone infused owning up to their emotional shit with this kind of groove and swoon.