Originally published November 18, 2021 on radiofodder.com
From the moment she released ‘Apricots’, I have been in love with the curly-haired, cavoodle-loving MAY-A. There is something within me that relates to her journey of being a young Aussie trying to navigate the space between childhood and adulthood through this pandemic. In the midst of a time that seems to make little sense, MAY-A’s debut EP Don’t Kiss Ur Friends is like a steaming mug of tea to soothe the soul—its title an ironic nod to the distance we are forced to keep from the people closest to us. Featuring some sweet vocals and catchy choruses, this EP is a peek into the story of MAY-A’s first female relationship, from a cheeky crush to the inevitable heartache of first love.
The single ‘Apricots’ holds a special place in my heart for accompanying me as I spent my final years as a teenager stuck inside, holding on through the highs and lows of life in lockdown. I remember the day it was released, the sunset was vividly pink, a reminder of all the big, bright and beautiful things “you don’t know you want”. This song is truly a silver lining from last year that continues to warm my heart even now. It sets the tone for an EP jam-packed with narrative to be unpacked through each song.
Having a chat to MAY-A about the evolution of her writing process and the freedom to create characters, she said, “sometimes I write songs about TV show characters or people I see on the street, or idealistic versions of myself that I wish I could be.
“The beginning of songwriting I honed in on honesty and truth to myself because I wanted that first project to be one hundred percent me but now it’s a lot more experimental.”
On this EP, MAY-A’s songwriting reflects the pandemic we have all just lived through. More than ever before, we’ve all used music as an escape, launching ourselves into fictional versions of this year. For MAY-A, songs like ‘Central Station’—about a would-be lover encountered briefly on the train—feel like a peek into her most personal thoughts and fantasies, navigating self-discovery and the lives we all live behind closed doors.
When I wasn’t listening to music, I spent a lot of my spare time this year reading books to jump into another world. ‘Central Station’ reminds me of Casey McQuiston’s One Last Stop and the impossible love shared between two girls. I never imagined that I would miss catching PTV but after nearly two years without it I am excited for the day I can read my book swaying with the carriage.
As a whole, Don’t Kiss Ur Friends demonstrates that MAY-A is the queen of a relatable chorus and catchy hook, all while playing around with different moods and atmospheres. The opening track, ‘Amiinmyhead?’ is a microcosm of this this, with deeper and moodier vocals as well as a catchy chorus, already stuck in my head. Her bouncy lyrical pacing keeps you engaged from start to finish with anticipation for the love story.
Track four ‘Daffodils’ is a slower, more sombre stream of consciousness that floats with vocal harmonies and strings. “Don’t lean on me…I’m barely standing on my own”, MAY-A sings with remarkable strength, building to a crescendo towards the end which mimics a plea with someone else to respect your boundaries and leave you room to look after yourself. ‘Time I Love To Waste’ returns to the groovy feel of earlier releases from MAY-A, a sunshine-filled pick me up from the previous track. The line, “there is no place like home”, feels like a warm hug with the person you love.
A personal standout, ‘Swing of Things’ is sonically brighter and a little more hopeful for the future—a track we can all relate to after what feels like a lifetime upside down. I think we’re all wanting to get back into the swing of things in one way or another.
Talking about hopes for the future, MAY-A shared that “If I could do a song with Troye Sivan or flume I think my life would be complete”.
In the meantime, her debut EP has been on repeat since I first hit play, bringing something special to my days in lockdown. On the journey of finding a new normal, we all need to find what makes us feel alive. For MAY-A, this includes ‘Never Be Like You’ by Flume, ‘Youth’ by Glass Animals, ‘Don’t Delete the Kisses’ by Wolf Alice, ‘Ninety’ by Jaden, ‘Mr Brightside’ by The Killers (of f*cking course) and ‘Freakin’ Out On The Interstate’ by Briston Maroney.
For me, and her growing fanbase, Don’t Kiss Ur Friends is sure to join this list of classics.