Today’s Song: MAALA Falls Out of Love on Debut “Touch”

Touch - MAALA

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How did it all change when I felt your old touch?

It’s amazing how, when produced well, something as simple as a kick drum/clap combination can send shivers down the spine. That’s the sort of musical electricity that permeates the beginning of “Touch,” the debut single by Auckland-based recording artist MAALA. Uploaded to SoundCloud on March 5, “Touch” is an immediate head-turner, with a slow, powerfully resonant percussive beat filling an otherwise void entrance.

How does one proceed when the first five seconds of a song set the bar so high? By pushing to even greater heights.

Enter the dark synth pads that linger like water droplets in a cavern. The ghost of one chord meets the raw attack of the next, creating an ambient environment that thrives off each note’s decay and release. Enter a smooth voice, emotive yet reserved. His is the kind of crooning that could warm a room in the absence of instrumental support.

She dropped her sight
Unguarded, won’t fight it
World can’t see she’s gonna leave him blinded

As MAALA develops a lyrical portrait of dying love, the music reveals a landslide of convoluted emotions. StressAnxiety. The heart beats quicker when it lives with fear, and we know from the song’s onset of an impending loss. Growing from an innocent wave into a fully-formed typhoon, MAALA’s synths add a rise-and-fall that turns beautiful, heart-wrenching poetry into a promising song.

Why am I holding on to the nothing left
What am I going to say at the end
Holding left me at the very edge
Find another desire

MAALA - Touch

Songwriting instructors like to stress the importance of implicit, rather than explicit writing. The meaning lies in what you don’t say – and in keeping a shred of doubt in the listeners mind, you grab their attention and tickle their curiosity. If storytelling is indeed a science, then MAALA is Ernest Rutherford – not because of their shared New Zealand blood, but because MAALA digs into the core of his subject to explore its elemental roots, much like Rutherford did with the atom.

He may not win the Nobel Prize for his efforts, but MAALA certainly touches upon something universal in his musical debut. “Touch” dissects an electric moment of ecstasy, turned sour by a single touch. The in-love narrator suddenly realizes the expiry notice on his flame, an awakening that sends him reeling introspection. Why am I still trying to revive that which is doomed? I should move on; find someone else…

How did it all change when I felt your old touch?

Whether ‘she’ was already over ‘him’ is unclear, and relatively unimportant in the context of the song. The topic of discussion is that instant of physical contact between two bodies that’s supposed to be filled with desire, but is instead filled with something much colder: Dread and doubt. What was once perhaps loving and familiar is now described as “old.”

Make me feel this time
Spoke like empty words
You’re still on my mind
And I oh I wish I felt it

Science tells us that ‘physical love’ evolves, over time, into ’emotional love.’ The latter is much less electric than the former, but it is far more stable (among many other perks). Most young relationships meet their match at the crossroads of this transition from physically to emotionally driven love, and in the case of “Touch,” it seems the relationship didn’t make it. In the words of Sir Elton John, “love lies bleeding.” Through his music and lyrics, MAALA evokes and relives that physical and emotional experience of dying love for the listener.

Little is known about New Zealand’s MAALA; the Sony-signed artist has kept in the dark on social media, allowing his song to speak for itself. This artist-approved tactic (think Sir Sly or Smallpools) succeeds every one in ten times, but when it does, sparks truly fly. Now percolating through the internet for a solid four months, “Touch” has the staying power to push MAALA into the limelight. In fact, it has already done so at home:  “Touch” is currently sitting at a cool No. 9 on its second week in New Zealand’s domestic singles chart.

MAALA's "Touch" currently sits at No. 9 on New Zealand's Singles Chart (July 6, 2015)

MAALA’s “Touch” currently sits at No. 9 on New Zealand’s Singles Chart (July 6, 2015)

This is the song you’re going to tell all your friends about. The latest in soul-infused electro-indie pop music, “Touch” offers a fusion similar to that offered by Jack Garratt’s “Worry.” But why stop at one comparison? If Hozier and Chet Faker (or Bastille and The Weeknd)  had a very chill baby, that musical lovechild would be MAALA. Time will tell what comes of this new artist – whether he is the next break-out Kiwi, or a memorable one-hit wonder – but I, for one, cannot wait to see what MAALA’s future holds. Rich with heavy synth action and dripping with sex appeal, “Touch” is an amazing debut single that deserves significant praise.

Listen: “Touch” – MAALA

 

:: “Touch” – MAALA ::

lyrics

She dropped her sight
Unguarded, won’t fight it
World can’t see she’s gonna leave him blinded
Lights off, don’t stop
In silence, one sided
I felt your touch, won’t find compromise
Why am I holding on to the nothing left
What am I going to say at the end
Holding left me at the very edge
Find another desire
How did it all change when I felt your old touch
How did it all change when I felt your old touch
How did it all change when I felt your old touch
How did it all change when I felt your old touch
Boys and blurred shark
Unravelled, ignited
Held down, eyes shut
Felt our time subside
Why am I holding on to the nothing left
What am I going to say at the end
Holding left me at the very edge
Find another desire
How did it all change when I felt your old touch
How did it all change when I felt your old touch
How did it all change when I felt your old touch
How did it all change when I felt your old touch
When I felt your old touch
Make me feel this time
Spoke like empty words
You’re still on my mind
And I oh I wish I felt it
Make me feel this time
Spoke like empty words
You’re still on my mind
Find another desire
How did it all change when I felt your old touch
How did it all change when I felt your old touch
How did it all change when I felt your old touch
How did it all change when I felt your old touch
When I felt your old touch
When I felt your old touch
When I felt your old touch
When I felt your old touch

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The Breakdown

Mitch Mosk

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com