I’m going to come right out and say it: I’m late to the party on this one. Sort of. You see, I was aware of singer/songwriter Grace Mitchell before she released this EP last October. She’d done a moody cover of Hall & Oates’ classic “Maneater” on the soundtrack to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which was released during December of 2013. The entire soundtrack was fabulous but it was the closing track, the Grace Mitchell track, that had me in awe. It was just so good. One day I listened to it on repeat for forty five minutes. But as the months went on and hundreds of other things reached my desk, I more or less forgot about her. (Shame on me, I know.) And I did not receive a promo of this EP, so it wasn’t until Spotify suggested it to me a month or so ago that I finally heard it. Granted, it only came out in October of 2014, so I was just a couple of months late, but, yes, I wish I would have heard it upon its release and covered it then. But they say better late than never, right? And so I’m covering it now…
Design — the name of the EP, if you hadn’t noticed above — opens with a gorgeous, super trippy gem of a pop song called “Runaway.” “I see myself in your hazy eyes / Hands on my side, moves just like mine / I could feel you on my shoulder, I could die,” begins the first verse of the serene number that meshes cool and sparse electro-beats with warm synth that radiates like sunlight pouring through a tree, little flashes of it piercing the branches and landing on your skin, giving you goosebumps even as it warms you.
“Broken Over You” follows and immediately calls to mind all the best new artsy pop artists to debut during the past year or so, namely Banks, Lorde and Broods. For starters, she’s just as adept at utilizing a bare minimum of electronic sounds and synths to paint rich, colorful songs. And then she’s equally skillful at writing poetic lyrics that pierce the listener’s soul. Listening to this song, you feel like the beat isn’t electronic but her own heartbeat, the track being so emotive. But just when you’re off daydreaming over it, drums smash into the picture with fury, driving the song’s message home, ensuring that you realize just how broken over you she gets. (This song is just begging to be used on the TV show Stalker.)
The snappy “Always & Forever” follows and kicks the tempo up a notch, less you think she’s only capable of slower songs. Here, she uses live electric guitar and groovy bass guitar to set the tone, though it’s her dreamy, almost sultry voice that makes the song. “And my friends all say I told you / And I guess all dreams don’t come true,” she sings with the air of a girl let down by her prince charming.
And it would seem that Grace believes in saving the best for last, as the EP concludes with “Your Design,” an intoxicating song that features parts that are the most minimalist on the EP along with parts that are its most lively. It’s a roller coaster ride of emotions that finds her asking her would be lover, “Do I fit in your design?” One can only wonder what sort of response that question prompted, but insofar as her music goes, she’s sure to fit the designs of art pop junkies everywhere.