- Karlee Skipper
Review: "Melancholia High Season" - Sarah von Reis
Sarah von Reis brilliantly encapsulates the feeling of inescapable depression and overall contempt for life with her newest single. “Melancholia High Season” was written during a time when von Reis felt that she should have been happy with how her career and personal life were going, but she still felt despondent and thwarted. The lyrics throughout the track explore this feeling of hopelessness and woe. The song immediately kickstarts with von Reis singing, “I was born in the darkest place on earth// California save me from all this hurt// But canopies are broken// And the winds have spoken.” She describes how she desired to move from her hometown to Los Angeles hoping that her dreams of pursuing music would heal this darkness born inside her. However, regardless of the prolific music industry professionals she befriended and the high glamour life she tasted, she still felt broken. She felt that her experience was fake and that it was not what she had once dreamt it would be. In the chorus, she sings, “Melancholia High Season// Total sadness for no reason// Melancholia High Season// Total sadness for no reason// Happy, Happy, I don’t feel happy// Happy, Happy, Everyone’s so happy but me.” These lyrics are a cry for help; her reaching out to anyone who will listen to tell them that her joy is only for show, and that deep down, she is dying inside. In the bridge, the song reaches the emotional climax of the track with the lines: “Live my life in retrograde// Dye my hair in every shade// Tried to fit inside the frame// But Sunset’s driving me insane.” von Reis makes it clear that she has done everything she can to fit the mold of what Hollywood is trying to make her be. But while she is trying to conform, the city is slowy chipping away at her sanity. She is losing more and more of herself, and slipping into this dark depression she cannot seem to break free from. The profound message von Reis sings throughout the track is relatable for not only listeners in the music industry, but even those who are struggling to find happiness in their own career. What once used to be their biggest dream, now causes them their deepest depression. However, von Reis was able to overcome this dark part in her life, and audiences that listen to the song and see how far she has come are reassured that one day they will break through their depression, as well.
“Melancholia High Season” is a moody pop song that consists of a soothing, yet infectious melody that effortlessly guides the listener through vulnerable lyrics. The track begins with von Reis singing the first verse acapella. This distinctive introduction immediately grabs the audience’s attention while setting the somber tone. Then, the pre-chorus kicks off the production with the bass and the drumbeat, paired with haunting vocal harmonies in the background. At the end of the verse, the music is muted while von Reis sings, “Everyone’s a liar,” before the chorus picks up with the full production. In the background, von Reis continues to harmonize with herself, further enhancing the eerie atmosphere of the track. Toward the end of the chorus, synth sound effects are added to provide an additional dynamic to the song. The production maintains this structure through the second verse and chorus, with a unique flair on the bridge. The tempo picks up with von Reis matching the speed with her sweet falsettos, pulling emphasis on the climax of the track. Then, she uses her lower register for the end of the bridge, repeating the hook: “High season, Total sadness for no reason,” before transitioning back into the emotional final chorus. Additionally, a key component of the track are the lyrics: “Everyone’s so happy but me.” In the corresponding music video, von Reis perfectly captures this concept with the unsettling imagery. She is seen throughout the video sitting on a bench in a nearly empty theater, wearing an unusual all-white outfit. In front of her, a video montage of happy, smiling strangers are being projected onto a screen. Behind her, a man in a white lab coat, presumed to be a “doctor,” is holding her eyes open, forcing her to watch the carefree people. This is meant to symbolize that everyone around her is full of joy, while she is deeply depressed. In real life, she is forced to take in their happiness and even mask her own depression. The visuals are inherently brilliant, showing that von Reis is not only an impressive songwriter, but also an outstanding visionary.
Sarah von Reis is a singer-songwriter from Gothenberg, Sweden. She began her musical journey at a young age when she joined a local youth choir at twelve-years-old. In high school, she studied music, focusing primarily on jazz, pop, and rock. In 2016, she was signed to Universal Music Sweden as a member of the pop group, Dolly Style, who she also wrote songs for. After years of touring and appearances on television, she split from the group in 2018 to venture on her own. She spent the following year writing and honing in on her sound, before releasing her debut solo single in 2020, entitled “Anti-Gravity (No One’s Daughter).” Since then, she has released three more singles that quickly became fan favorites. Recently, on March 31st, 2023, von Reis released her debut EP, Melancholia High Season. The EP features two previously released singles, the title track, and one brand new release. Her music is strongly influenced by “the melodic language of Swedish jazz, the indie pop from her teenage years and a great passion for telling stories.” Her artistry is often described as somewhere between Fiona Apple and Billie Eilish, which captures her unique, ethereal style.
Written By Karlee Skipper