Molly Burch - Daydreamer (Cotton Candy Colored LP Vinyl)
Molly Burch - Daydreamer
- Cotton Candy Colored LP Vinyl
RELEASE DATE: 9/29/2023
What do Molly Burch and Jennifer Garner have in common? Besides being ass-kicking spies, of course? It’s that the age 13 was a seminal moment in their lives. But while Garner’s exploration of her 13 year-old self involved the 2004 classic film 13 Going on 30, Burch’s is her fourth album, Daydreamer. Burch has recently relocated to her hometown of Los Angeles, but while she was still residing in Austin (the city where she lived the past decade), she visited home and did that thing our parents love to have us do: rummage through old boxes to see what shit we can throw away. Upon finding her old diaries from age 13 and younger, Burch was brought to tears. “Growing up I was extremely shy and filled with self hatred. I would hide out in my bedroom to watch TV and daydream. I was so uncomfortable in my body and that was the age I started dealing with body dysmorphia, which later formed into an eating disorder. It was also the age I started realizing I could sing, and how badly I wanted to pursue that, but told myself I couldn’t,” Burch said, realizing how cruel she was to herself then, and how she still harbors many of those same self-critiques. It was this visit that forced her to take responsibility for where she was currently at in life, anxiety, body issues and all, and to try to let go of old habits.
Burch’s albums have often focused on romantic tribulations and themes of love and longing, but Daydreamer finds her turning more inward than ever before. It’s more than just an exploration of love and romance and how it affects her as a person, it’s an exploration of all of her before-now hesitant anxieties and secrets she’d never been bold enough to confess. It’s not just a walk down memory lane to the time when she started to explore her own voice by imitating those of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, egged on by her sister. It was mostly for laughs and attention, but at a certain point, Molly’s sister realized she could really sing, pushing her to get out of her shell and pursue it. The thematic territory mined on Daydreamer makes it her most personal album yet, and though yes, she says that about all of her albums, this one in particular is a conversation between Burch’s state of being when she was younger and how she feels currently as an adult.
The record that materialized from Burch’s youthful reflections was born in the middle of the pandemic. Touring wasn’t safe yet and Burch was beginning to feel claustrophobic while realizing how unsustainable it felt to be an artist at that time. Not being able to tour for her last album, Romantic Images, left her feeling lonely. And meanwhile, it seemed like everyone was dropping albums left and right. It was overstimulating. She was losing the plot of why she made music in the first place, having come from a creative family — her parents work in the film industry, as does her sister. She was stuck, until she wrote “Beauty Rest” for everyone feeling similarly. It was an idealistic lullaby for everyone exhausted by the grind of society, and that is how Daydreamer began its origins.
Daydreamer boasts a sharper, much cleaner production approach and a bit more pop than Burch’s previous records, thanks to producer Jack Tatum (Wild Nothing). “I had worked withJack before on our co-written song ‘Emotion’ that we put out in 2020,” Burch says. “When deciding who would produce Daydreamer I knew I wanted it to be Jack as soon as I started writing. We have similar taste and sensibilities and I look up to him so much.” There are Japanese city pop inspirations, horns, strings, and more ballads, with a throughline of Molly’s masterful, shimmering vocals taking center stage. The result is music that feels stirring and sweeping, pulling in sounds and influences of the past, while also propelling Burch into a further development of herself as an artist.
On the surface, lead single “Physical” is a dark and sultry ‘80s mid-tempo jam with an intro that could very well be on the soundtrack to a John Carpenter horror film. It’s the first song Burch and Tatum worked on together, setting the tone for the rest of the record’s sound. It’s also about Burch’s public struggles with PMS, but with lyrics broad enough that anyone without PMS can relate. The album also returns to themes that have become somewhat of a signature for Burch, such as unrequited love on “Unconditional.” “This song sounds like a traditional love song, but I wrote it thinking about the music business while feeling the constant ups and downs of it all. A big part of pursuing a creative job is being okay with the roller coaster of emotions which can be exhausting. This is my way of expressing that through a narrative of being ghosted by another person,” Burch says. “Baby Watch My Tears Dry” confronts frustrations with the lingering voices in one's own head: “I wrote this song while I was promoting my last album in the middle of the pandemic. I was heavily focused on external opinions, letting them dictate my self worth. This song is for anyone who feels like they could cry an ocean of tears”.
And then there’s “Tattoo,” one of the more emotional songs on the album, where Burch writes an ode to her best friend in high school who took her own life in 2009. It’s the longest Burch has ever taken to write a song, an ethereal ballad featuring sweeping harp and backup vocals from Hannah Kim (Luna Li). Of her friend, Burch says, “In 9th grade, she accompanied me on guitar the very first time I sang in front of people. She was such a big part of my musical journey. On paper we didn’t make sense as best friends, she was larger than life while I was constantly trying to shrink myself, but we balanced each other out in a beautiful way. “Tattoo” is a love letter to her, and I hope it does her justice.”
Though the album spends time with mournful, anxious reflections, the songs on Daydreamer never feel bogged down in bleakness or morbidity. Burch’s ability to take the darkest moments of her life and translate them to a universal language lays the ground for her most masterful pop writing to-date. Daydreamer is dedicated not only to her thirteen year-old self, but the thirteen year-old selves of listeners that still lingers within them. As children, we escape the world and our scariest thoughts through daydreaming. When Burch was a kid, she would daydream about how life would look when she was older, when she’d presumably have all her shit together. Now, as an adult, she finds herself daydreaming about what’s next in life, what she’ll create in the future, and the person she wants to be. The chorus of album closer “Bed” repeats the expression, “you’ve made your bed, now lie in it.” Burch says, “this is me taking responsibility for my current state in life, acknowledging my past, while moving forward with a newfound appreciation for my journey.”
1. Made of Glass
3. Baby Watch My Tears Dry
9. Beauty Rest
LABEL: Captured Tracks Rec.