An In-Depth Exploration of Gia Ford’s ‘Murder In The Dark’ EP

 

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No UK label boasts as many pop pioneers as the independent, London-based, Dirty Hit.
Our latest instalment is from one of the label’s newest recruits, whose androgyny has recently drawn comparison to the likes of Harry Styles. Joining the array of Dirty Hit artists such as The 1975, Rina Sawayama and The Japanese House, is Gia Ford.

Ford’s sophomore EP, Murder in The Dark has been highly anticipated since her bold debut Poster Boy laid down the foundations for her artistry.

Poster Boy features tracks such as ‘Turbo Dreams’ (released August 2019), which showcases her dreamy vocals amongst lo-fi RnB beats. Ford’s musical signature is a distinct eighties-esque expression of a queer, alternative-pop. Nonetheless, MITD (Murder in The Dark) sees Ford further defying the boundaries of genre, using the foundations built by her first release to push queer expression beyond what we have already seen.

Over the course of nine tracks, Ford effortlessly explores the many facets of love. She uses the lens of someone unashamed of vulnerability, whilst still honouring the light-hearted hookup or occasional brief fling. In this record, instrumentals take on even greater responsibility of scene-setting amongst the EP’s measured structure. At times, complicated instrumentation can distract the listener but nonetheless contribute to Ford’s story-telling ability.

 

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Gia the Friendly Giant Photo by @melony.lemon EP2 in 1 WEEK, 3 DAYS

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The record opens with the suggestive and aptly named instrumental, ‘Texting in the Dark’. This track acts as preparation for the nostalgic memorial of fast-paced fun had in a past fling, as described in ‘Waterslide’; drowning and distorted vocals accentuate the fast-paced squander of control that underpins the track’s events. This comes appropriately before the artist takes a plunge into the deep end.

‘You & I (GUM)’ is an ode to the positive change that Ford’s girlfriend, best friend and collaborator added to her life. The track is seemingly a continuation of a short melodic motif which first appeared in ‘CHANGE INTERLUDE’, from Poster Boy. Ending with a sequence of bell chime synths over which Ford declares “you’re my only one with your jeans undone”, unexpected emotion is provoked. Ford’s burst of impassioned voice prompted me to hit “repeat” and add the unlikely stand-out track to my DEEP CUTS playlist, before moving onto the second half of the record.

For ‘Bathwater’, Ford teams up with fellow DH signee 404 Guild to ease us into an exploration of new-born love. This track borrows from the distorted vocals of ‘Waterslide’, pitch shifting to convey a feeling of drowning and suffocation that mirrors the exciting and overwhelming nature of new love.

In ‘Dizziness’ we see Ford lamenting on such infatuation. Carefully placed at the start of the second half of the record, the track uses the opportunity to reflect on the blinding innocence of falling in love, following on from the raw feeling of ‘You & I (GUM)’. Both ‘Bathwater’ and ‘Dizziness’ together form a stark comparison to the blue solitude expressed in ‘Anywhere You Are!’. Gia’s smooth delivery of lyrics successfully re-establish tension, drenched in longing for the lover we hear her texting in the opening track: “Nightmare in my room, blue glow on my roof … All I can do is wish I could be anywhere you are!”

 

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Ford has succeeded in creating a clearly-defined home for her latest release, which borrows from aspects of 70s camp-horror. Her unique aesthetic is combined with aspects of lo-fi R&B and 80s production, which feature best on the EP’s eponymous closing track, ‘Murder in the Dark’. This track offers a hopeful end to this story – a glimpse of the life we all find ourselves looking forward to, during these unprecedented times. This one forced me to imagine drinking with friends as the sun sets on a searing summer’s day.

There was not a moment I didn’t find myself painfully comparing Gia’s experience of queer love with that of my own. The melodramatic journey of extremes is underpinned by a constant affinity for tension. From flirtation, ambiguity and brief infatuation, to nights spent indulging in self-pity and solitude, there is not one thing Ford is too afraid to mention.

The project was a refreshing surprise even in an era of encountering the unexpected on a daily basis. Murder in the Dark is a fresh look into the world that I didn’t know I needed – the universe of Gia Ford.

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