South London’s MATT MALTESE Shares First New Track “Mystery”
May 21, 2021 BY Nettwerk
23-year-old south London artist Matt Maltese has today shared his brand new single and video (by Aria Shahrokhshahi) “Mystery” on Nettwerk. “Mystery” is the very first taste of Matt Maltese’s third album – slated for release later this year – and was co-produced by Maltese and Margate producer Tom Carmichael with mixing by the Grammy award-winning Noah Georgeson.
Speaking about “Mystery,” Maltese said: “This song’s a loving question mark. Why we are what we are, and think and feel the way we do, is an unanswerable question that we can only be in awe of sometimes.”
Themes like the banality and loneliness of life have consistently weighed heavy on Matt Maltese’s songwriting, none more so than on the dystopian single “As The World Caves In” from 2018 first album Bad Contestant – a song so impossibly on-the-nose for the past twelve months of pandemic, it could have been written three weeks ago rather than three years back. During the process of moving our lives online, things have had a strange way of coming full circle; with “As The World Caves In” undergoing a major resurgence, ringing true for a new legion of young fans on TikTok where it soundtracks dozens upon dozens of new videos each day (he has upwards of 170,000 followers on TikTok alone) and has contributed to Maltese reaching an audience bigger than ever before on streaming platforms. Exactly 12 months ago, “As The World Caves In” was being streamed roughly 13,000 times daily on Spotify, now the single receives over 2,500,000 spins per week, and Maltese’s monthly listeners have jumped from 160k to 2.8M.
“Mystery” is Anglo-Canadian Maltese’s first release since his acclaimed 2020 EP madhouse. The singles “queen bee” and “hi” from madhouse were heavily supported across BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 6 Music, Radio X, and more. madhouse followed Maltese’s brace of albums debut Bad Contestant (2018) and sophomore release Krystal (2019) in registering huge critical praise. madhouse received rave reviews with Dork handing it 4*, adding, “In the Matt Maltese cinematic universe, details are everything”. NME also awarded it 4* saying, “madhouse comes as his most assured work yet.” Gigwise said: “Maltese steps it all the way down for a dreamy, sixties-inflected ballad that sings with the nostalgia of The Beach Boys and twinkles with synth keys”. While Music Week added “There’s no stopping Matt Maltese and his wonky DIY pop music” and CLASH went one further saying, “He takes simple throwaway thoughts and dresses them in lavish costume, he puts them centre stage and luminates them as the stars of his production.”
Watch the “Mystery” music video:
“A lot of this [new] record is escapism,” he explains of the album, written and recorded between his London home and Echo Zoo studios on England’s south coast during the U.K.’s year-long lockdown. “I’ve had to find more meaning out of the small parts of life. I want this record to celebrate the theatre in all the small things. It’s so cheesy to say it, but I think life is best when you try to make the ordinary extraordinary.”
This sense of embracing positivity and romanticizing the everyday runs throughout. “The love songs, in particular, I think feel in hindsight like they’re me stepping outside of the present, touching on moments in the past or daydreaming what tomorrow might look like,” Maltese explains. “They’re everything I want and think love to be – too-romantic, genuine, strange, a little gross, silly, normal, imperfect, all at once.” In his quest to capture the intensity of the feelings we share each and every day, the record represents Maltese’s biggest step forward so far.
Understandably, for an album written entirely at home during a worldwide pandemic, some feelings of helplessness also crept into the writing process. Never is that more striking than on “Good Morning,” a breezy pop song studded with dark lyrics about witch hunts and armageddon. “It’s about the slow-moving beast that moves everything forward,” Maltese says, reflecting on a rare moment the album dives into something like realism. “No matter how many people are dying and how much tragedy there is, society still moves forwards. I wanted to reflect on that and talk about how a lot of everyday life is about making peace with that powerlessness. There were a lot of moments last year of thinking, “Fuck, how do we change things, and will these systems of power ever really change until it gets literally apocalyptic?” It’s a little bit of me saying I don’t know what I can do but I’ll think every day about how I can be a better part of this world.”
Where once he would have stared impending doom in the face and found a way to make fun of himself for basking in its darkness, now Maltese is more determined than ever to look to tomorrow and find a positive way forward. “It’s a real coping record,” Maltese says of making his most optimistic work during “the worst period” of global unrest his lifetime. “The pandemic made me very aware of the small things and the important things. It made the past feel even further away which is why I think the album is so hopeful. It made me realise which relationships and connections are real and a true source of joy. It made me latch onto those things more than ever.”
Getting away from the character he created for himself on previous albums has led to a more grounded and content place for Maltese. Lead single “Mystery” captures a snapshot of his immediate world and the strangeness of the vast planet on which we all live. It’s a song that states the obvious in many ways, capturing the fact that nobody truly has a handle on how life works but trying to reach a place of being able to enjoy that lack of understanding. “In many ways this album is me simply being in awe of everything and confused but at peace,” Maltese says when summing up the album. “I never want to sound hopeless or like I get it, because I don’t. Life feels like a search but that’s the whole point.” Finally comfortable in life’s many uncomfortable positions, the new album is Matt Maltese admitting that he doesn’t have the answers he one thought he did and, most importantly, finding peace in knowing that none of us ever will.