Australian pop music is being shaken by the arrival of an alt pop singer-songwriter who’s already taking command of her career. The aforementioned artist, Byron-based MVLHOLLAND (whose real name is Grace Mulholland), has released a powerful debut single in ‘83’. Filled with thumping beats, crystalline strings and deliciously smoky vocals, ‘83’ is the moment in Australian indie pop right now.
It opens with haunting strings that delicately creep over the track’s soundscape. All the while, Mulholland’s vocals gloss over the sound with a smooth sweetness that instantly transports listeners into the song’s world of never-ending highways and midnight visits to petrol stations. The chorus is supported by powerful beats that encompass Mulholland’s vocals in a way that highlights them rather than drowns them out. The beats pack a punch, and we’re sure that they’ll get your adrenaline pumping as soon as you hear them. Sonically, the juxtaposition between the attention-grabbing chorus and the quieter verses give ‘83’ an addictive soundscape as listeners are taken high and low, fully supported by Mulholland’s voice at all times.
Lyrically, ‘83’ takes the classic Bonnie and Clyde/outlaw lovers trope, and flips it on its head with a modern, feminist twist. ‘I’ll be king; I don’t need a queen / I will run this sh*t / just like we did on 83,’ Mulholland proclaims in each chorus. It’s a stark reminder of Mulholland’s power and a glimpse of what her future songs promise.
“'83' follows the story of a girl and her partner on the run down highway 83 in America. The song is kind of her turning point when she realises her partner is nervous and scared of her. She decides she can keep going on her own and that she doesn’t need him even though she can’t imagine life without him.
The track was written with Lachlan Bostock in a day on my first week back home in Australia. The chorus still seems funny to me because I was singing ‘I’ll be king’ as a joke, but then decided that that is what I wanted the song to make me feel. Powerful as f*ck,” explains Mulholland when speaking about the song’s narrative.
You’ll also want to check out the music video. Directed by Sam Brumby (Julia Jacklin, The Rubens), the video perfectly captures the song’s message and brands it into the minds of viewers/listeners. Shots of Mulholland spending time with her lover are interspersed with other visuals of Mulholland driving on her own. Each shot is overlaid with warm, Tumblr-esque filters that allows the music video to proudly stand alongside the videos of Olivia Rodrigo and Lana Del Rey (specifically ‘Born To Die’).
To sum it up, ‘83’ is a bold, empowering and unapologetic introduction of a young woman who is ready to make her mark on the Australian music scene. If ‘83’ is the standard that Mulholland has set for herself, both as a singer and songwriter, it’s clear to see that she will be making more than waves. She’ll be creating tsunamis.