Every wondered what Nelly Furtado would sound like if she’d been born into today’s technologically advanced hipster-ruled society? Well I reckon that question has been answered by emerging Sydney artist Sparrows and her new track On Your Own. By her own admission, Jessica Nitties – aka Sparrows – enjoys using ‘found sounds’ to enhance her eclectic brand of electronica. In parts it sounds like something Brian Wilson would have considered including in the Smile Sessions.
Jessica Nittes is flourishing as Sparrows, and On Your Own is an exercise in experimental pop that combines manipulated found sounds with alluring vocals.
On Your Own goes on a trek from doo-wop on prozac to movie soundtrack and visits every stop in between. The bass line and backing vocals are consistent, but not much else is. Not satisfied with your everyday drum machine effects, Sparrows uses found sounds and vocal manipulation to full effect. Bells, phones and some very psychedelic vocal stylings all make for a cacophony of sound that really grows on you the more you listen to it.
“I’m obsessed with taking recordings of sounds of objects lying around the house and then using these as a foundation for my songs. For this EP I’ve recorded chewing peanuts, bouncing ping-pong balls, staplers, lighters, gargling water and I even attempted to neigh like a horse,” Jessica muses when asked about the oddity of her sound.
Lyrically the song is ambiguous on first listen. It could be about a broken heart, it could be about growing up. As the title suggests, there’s plenty of imagery around going solo. But I asked her to clarify just for good measure: “This song is a homage to all those times when you realise you’re on your own … at the end of the day we are all on our own in terms of how we want to live our life. It’s that moment a child realises the tooth fairy isn’t real or the time you are told your partner just wants to be on their own. It grew from a broken relationship that I was desperately trying to claw back – when really I was just avoiding the idea of having to be on my own again.”
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Were it not for Nittes’ simply majestic vocals, the whole thing might just be a little bit too hard to swallow (bird pun intended). But somehow with her searching and youthful vocals always present atop the melodic chaos below, the song turns from experimental turpitude to brilliance, in much the same way that Brian Wilson’s masterpiece Good Vibrations did. Whilst Sparrows might not have reached those lofty heights just yet, I’m a believer.
It seems apparent that she has the freedom and ability to make edgy yet listenable music. “I was trying to initially make music that was of ‘now’ but I couldn’t even get it sounding like the stuff that’s out there at the moment,” she says. Given how difficult authenticity is to find these days in, well, anything – Sparrows makes you feel confident about the direction of pop music in this country.
On Your Own is Sparrows’ debut single off the album Bloom which is due out in January.