With her voice alone, Shiadanni can get the attention of anyone within earshot of her melodies, but that’s not her intention with her new single and music video “Penny Pills.” Although it’s packed with a cratering lyricism that can be interpreted as some of her darkest to date, “Penny Pills” is giving us insight into a Shiadanni who wants to push the sonic envelope further than a lot of her peers can reach, and she isn’t hiding her ambitiousness for anything in this performance. Compositionally speaking, this is a masterpiece of contrast, and something I would tell all of her fans to pay close attention to.
Everything, and I mean everything in “Penny Pills” was designed to accentuate the exposed feel of the lyrics, from the tone of the vocal to the hollow percussive shadow that follows some of the most cutting statements Shiadanni will make at the microphone. Her melodic daggers could shred through just about anything, but there’s nothing to get in her way here – with a jagged arrangement, the noisy percussion is her only heavy counterpart, and together they develop a poetry that feels so much more powerful than words ever would have on their own.
At no point does Shiadanni have to pummel us with the drums in this mix; she’s actually able to use her verses as a strict compass with which to navigate the unpredictable groove, and her swagger is the reason why she sounds as potent with the lyrics as she does. In a song like “Penny Pills,” the strength of our singer can be made or broken by their confidence, and this is a player who can utilize it to drive home some of the most extravagant and lush harmonies that you’re going to hear in a minimalist pop track this month.
There are not enough indie players who are getting as clever in the studio as Shiadanni is with “Penny Pills,” and with her latest release I think she’s raising the bar a bit higher than a lot of her closest competition in the underground will be able to compete with. She has every right to feel on top of the world after a studio cut like this, and if she keeps recording this kind of postmodern material, I think her profile is going to grow among critics who would otherwise be disinclined to follow the indie pop circuit as closely as they will now.