By Hannah Quearney
The last year has seen a boom in the pop market for unapologetically sleek sex anthems that comfortably detach themselves from the bizarre demands of the male gaze. In joining the upper echelons of sonic sensuality alongside the likes of Megan Thee Stallion or Ashnikko, the Irish-born and London-based Biig Piig distinguishes herself instantly.
Known outside of her moniker as Jessica Smith, the artist strays from conventional provocation or sing-song hooks as she curates what intimacy means to her. The Sky is Bleeding is a celebration of these discoveries, a dedication to what Smith describes as her “sxc dom phase,” and an expertly-crafted piece of indie-pop.
The thematics of the album are reflected in its lush instrumentation — equal parts hushed, brazen, and tantilising. The jazziness of the moody “Tarzan” with its tidy drum fills and pulsing bass pairs with Smith’s slinking vocals in a way where her clandestine sweet nothings are given the clarity that they deserve.
Once we catch a glimpse of the song’s unknown pleasures — the bodies of lovers conjured by the luminescence of candlelight — it lingers into the following track “Baby Zombies” as Smith’s muted coos fall into murmur. Much like an extinguished flame, her vocals are indistinct and hazy — but they harness a kind of swagger that only feels appropriate for both the musical and emotional space she’s carved out.
The leading single for The Sky Is Bleeding is the domineering yet ever-suave “Lavender.” From the hypnotic lull of its reed organ to her taut whispered demands — as embodied by her refrain of “you want it” — we are steeped into the hot seat, budding front-row spectators waiting for Smith to play out her vixenish persona.
The mood is escalated with closing track “American Beauty.” While it certainly pays homage to the infamously lusty film of the same name, something is distinctly different: Smith is not humouring a male fantasy of what female desire should look or feel like. In exploring the realm of lesbian desire — “Maybe I wanna show you what it’s like / And baby, you’re so pretty, we should keep the lights on” — a tentative giddy excitement breaks up the EP’s moodiness.
A brooding quality remains in the track’s instrumental, something repetitive but alluring. As the EP’s closest thing to a single on a soundtrack for a coming-of-age movie, “American Beauty” feels like the most appropriate closing act for Smith’s own journey of self-discovery and sexual autonomy.
Listen to The Sky Is Bleeding below.