Song Spotlight: K.Flay "Black Wave"

At some point I was introduced to K.Flay after her 2010 song “No Duh” appeared on several “best new tracks from female artists” lists. It features a vocal-sampled background melody like a despondent remix of the “la la la”s from Gilmore Girls and a set of comic book and breakfast cereal referencing lyrics that sound like they were written in a restless, insomniac state off the edge of a bed at 2am.

It’s a good song, but it hinted at an artist still experimenting with style and still tip-toeing between the awkward beats of white girl hip-hop. “No Duh” is a starter when you ordered a main.

Which is exactly what makes “Black Wave” such a brash, bold surprise. It comes swaggering in with all the momentum and blast of a baseball bat to the head. It’s a surging charge of confidence and rage - and it’s absolutely infectious.

Released in 2017 from the album Every Where is Some Where, I admittedly missed it the first time around. In fact, I only happened upon the song recently on the trailer to Assassination Nation where “Black Wave” exists as a screeching Millennial anthem, a musical torpedo beneath sharp cut scenes of social unrest and violent, feminist uprising.

“Black Wave” is led by K.Flay’s playful and almost flirtatious vocal line pulsating over a thunderous, grumbling bass that opens out into a brief, delicate melody. There’s something unabashedly feminine about the song and - like “No Duh” - it presents a restless portrait of a young woman biding her time and “sippin’ on a cold one”. Just waiting for a bad vibe to erupt, full blown and explosive to the detriment of everyone: The “Black Wave” of the songs title.

It’s a song bristling with vulnerability and fear, capturing the heaving atmosphere of social unrest and tension currently permeating every town, city, and country. Probing the insidious machinations of current social issues, the song asks “Who you gonna trust when the killer is a cop?” and “At the end is it all just greed?”with a spiked fury that results in a singular turbulent outburst with K.Flay screaming “I swear to god you don’t want to test me.”

Add it to your “Walking down the street & feeling like a boss” playlist, for sure. It’s definitely one of those songs to push to full volume through headphones when you’re feeling a little anti-social or vulnerable.