Maya Yenn is back with a buoyant bop, but don’t be fooled, this playful pop song is a trojan horse containing an urgent warning for humankind.
Musically, Maya Yenn isn’t afraid to bend genres and her latest release, 'Better Luck Next Time' is no exception, blending left-field productions choices with pop, a whisper of jazz and lyrical storytelling, the song centres around a disturbing analogy for humankind’s self-destructive behaviour and its consequences for the world’s future. The song was written from the perspective of a young man who has prioritised his career above everything else, so much so, he’s still trying to get a report out while his aeroplane is going down, bringing a whole new meaning to the word 'deadline'.
“It’s essentially a song that takes that old phrase ‘rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic’ as an analogy for the way we treat people and our environment, except in this case the deck chairs are a report with a deadline and the Titanic is a plane going down over the Atlantic.”
The song features bouncing bass lines and a frenetic beat which samples real sounds from aeroplanes, like aeroplane doors opening and closing, switches and buttons being flicking on and off. The whole track seems to pulse and throb, bubbling with the faintest undercurrent of threat throughout.
Delicately balanced between playful and sinister throughout its 3:22 duration, Better Luck Next Time threatens to tip over into the deep end at any moment. The just-under-the-water’s-surface treatment of the instrumentation gives the listener the feeling of being stalked by a shark just below the waves. Yenn sees the megalodon as hustle culture and impending disaster for the environment. The feathery vocals bring a serene kind of silky smoothness to the track that neatly juxtapose with the violence of the lyrics: “Billowing smoke and a punctured lung / Kerosene spills like a slip of the tongue.”
“We seem to value productivity above everything else in our culture, and that has very real consequences for people and the environment. It’s really easy to lose sight of what’s actually important with all the pressure of profit margins and fast results but if we stay blinkered in this way it won’t just be people facing constant burnout but the world we live in too.”
The track gives a fleeting nod to the swing singers of yesteryear through the watery brass and barely-surfacing orchestral moments, even the title, 'Better Luck Next Time' seems reminiscent of the twee, saccharine kind of song titles you’d expect from Frank Sinatra or Bob Hope some seven decades ago. Choosing such a glib title for a song that paints a picture of a very bleak future feels emblematic of our time. With the globe on the brink of environmental disaster and slow-to-catch-up carbon neutral policies we can keep saying, “we’ll get it right next time” but at some point there just isn’t going to be a next time.
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