Mallrat’s latest EP, ‘Driving Music,’ is exactly what it says it is – driving music. It’s a collection of floaty, teenage, “drive around because there’s nothing else to do” songs that bring me right back to being 17 and hanging out at a tree farm in Pennsylvania. ‘Intro’ sounds like the beginning of a young adult novel – at least, one I imagine set in my hometown. I can see my high school, and the pine trees, and my dad’s oversized denim jacket from the 80s that I wore like a second skin. There’s something about music that brings you back to a specific era that’s really comforting – songs like ‘Charlie’ are innocent, not to mention grounding. Mallrat sings about her parents fighting and boyfriends that are too old for her and her little sister smoking cigarettes – odes to a suburban upbringing viewed fondly instead of disapprovingly. All those little life details, ones we often dismiss into our memories, make up the important bits that stick with you in Mallrat’s wistful, up-tempo tracks.
‘When I Get My Braces Off’ is a testament to teen angst in a non-angsty way – I couldn’t help but laugh at the reference to cutting all your hair off just because (something I actually did), or the chorus of “bet you hate what I like / bet you hate what I hate” that drills into you the same way people’s opinions do. Mallrat’s songs are incredibly human – we care too much about what people think, we sometimes let out crushes devastate us, and while we think we’re special, we’re often going through the same things as everyone else. Mallrat’s simplistic approach and gentle, floaty background harmonies highlight the parts of life we’re all so familiar with and forget to revisit – but once in awhile, we should.
When I got this EP, I wanted to take the first train back to PA, hop in my car and drive – back to that dumb tree farm, and the abandoned train my friends used to climb through, or the park by my house where I had my first kiss and was promptly told I kissed like a lizard. There’s something about a song like ‘Drive Me Around’ that makes me want to stick half my body out a window and just be free – and it wraps me up in a warm, fuzzy, nostalgic kind of way that makes those memories into laughable learning moments. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but that first taste of freedom and being able to just drive and forget for awhile is something that will always stick with me. If you can, I highly recommend you plug some Mallrat in and go cruising.