Madeline Kenney Summer Quarter
Jan 22nd, 2021
On her self-produced EP, Summer Quarter, Madeline Kenney untangles moments of existential doubt and experiments with genre. After touring was cancelled following her album Sucker’s Lunch, Kenney was confronted by an extended period of unplanned time, sending her down a rabbit hole to reflect on where she ended up. She thus shifted her focus to conducting a study of new sonic interests and experimental production, a rare opportunity that could only present itself as time slowed down. The songs on Summer Quarter echo and ripple as she meanders between worldly questions and intimate observations, recording the loops that occur when you have almost too much time to think.
Kenney’s career has been notably dotted with collaborators like Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak and Chaz Bear of Toro y Moi, but this work is the first that is entirely produced by Kenney herself; all recorded in her windowless basement in Oakland, CA. With Summer Quarter, she is able to showcase her musical curiosity, letting herself experiment with soft synths and vocal treatments previously unassociated with her catalog. She stitches together dreamy sounds that both harmonize and contrast, pushing against the constraints that genres inherently assert. As she explores deeper into new musical territory, she unpacks the profound realization that life hasn’t turned out the way she expected. On the track “Wasted Time” she sings “So far/I’m going over everything /I care/But only when I’m suffering,” looking for ways forward through an existential fog.
Madeline Kenney can make the most intimate and introspective of subjects still articulate the universal feelings that hide in people’s minds. Summer Quarter is not only an exposition of Madeline Kenney’s curiosity for music, but also a means to pause and wonder about how the world seems to just carry on, no matter how hard we try to catch up.
1. Summer Quarter
2. Wasted Time