A principal conceit of Madeline Kenney’s hazy dream pop/psych rock single “Always” is just how damn exhausting it is to try to be all things to all people. As the neuroscientist/painter/baker/knitter asks with exhaustion at the outset: “How does it feel to always have to be turned on?” The answer, over the course of the spacious sounding but tightly constructed tune, is that it sucks. Trying to cover so many bases leads to a feeling of being stretched thin and wears a person down in no time. And there are moments when some of the wear seems to show in Kenney, particularly when she sighs about “chewing on self doubt.” But then the song’s guitar solo comes and all that concern and the self doubt and the feelings of being stretched thin disappear under a cloak of power chords. It’s a moment of taking stock about what actually matters and moving away from persisting in pleasing people who couldn’t care less. It’s turning off.
Kenney’s debut album, Night Night At The First Landing, drops September 1 on the Company Record Label and is available for pre-order here. Toro y Moi’s Chaz Bear produced the album.