Like most 19-year-olds, Grace Shaw, better known by her moniker Mallrat, is in the midst of figuring out who she is exactly and how this person came to be — a process filled with growing pains that manifest themselves in her music. One thing is clear: As she matures, so does her sound and image.
While her 2016 Uninvited EP showcased an upbeat and uninhibited foray into pop — from the bouncy tracks, to the optimistic lyricism, to the quirky and vibrant videos — this year’s In the Sky EP paints a more complicated picture. Evident not only in the songs, which noticeably slow things down and give listeners a deeper look into the personal life of Shaw, but also in the visuals.
The accompanying video to “UFO,” her moodiest release to date, places Shaw in a muted wasteland. She is usually alone, save for a few scenes in the latter half where she is beside featured artist Allday, moving between a deserted school, a tennis court and a dark field. Aesthetically, the “UFO” video is almost exactly the same as the December release “Better,” which also switches between clips of the singer alone in a few different settings. But while “Better” depicts a daydream-like world — one where Shaw can dance around sunflower-filled fields on a sunny day, singing into a microphone beside a horse — “UFO” is a look into a much darker part of the teen psyche, playing into the feelings that emerge from not belonging.
The tracks are side-by-side on the EP, juxtaposing the final lines of “Better” (“Now I’ve got an angel in the sky”) with the cryptic opening verse of “UFO” (“I heard lots of things/ You were all that I believe/ Promise that you’ll take me home”). Combined with the aerial visual that begins the video, later revealed to be the bird’s-eye-view of a UFO, these lyrics imply that there may be more than one way to interpret who, or what, Mallrat’s “angel in the sky” really is.
Both the songs, and the videos, act as two sides of the same coin. If “Better” shows the artist during the daytime, then “UFO” explores the uncertainty of night. It strips away the sunny demeanor and gives Shaw the chance to mature and try something new, while also retaining hints of the tongue-in-cheek personality that made her music a hit in the first place.
Mallrat will be supporting singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers on a string of upcoming U.S. tour dates. Of the tour, Shaw told Billboard, “I supported Maggie when she came to Australia this time last year. We had such a good time and got along so well, I can’t wait to do a whole run of shows with her in America now!”
Watch the exclusive premiere of the “UFO” video below.