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  • Andy Mockbee

Review: "Villain" - Rosie Darling

Waves rolling over the shoreline open the latest single from singer/songwriter Rosie Darling, "Villain." Her wispy vocals blend into the sparkling production to an equally serene effect. Delicate piano keys circle brightly, like footprints in the sand. In the first verse, Darling sings alone over the bright piano and atmospheric synths. It's like listening in on a soft-spoken confession, but gentle guitar and soft thumps soon open up the mix into pristine folk-pop. There's no climactic rush; instead, the LA-based artist finds impact in nurturing warmth. The big epiphany of "Villain" came before the song began, perhaps in the serenity of the quiet ocean waves. So when the production reaches a lush peak, it is Darling's light finally reaching every corner of a dark room.

While considering the role she plays in someone else's narrative, Darling writes from a place of serenity. "I think I'm out of the woods, I don't look over my shoulder," she exhales. She's not only found peace, but she's committing to maintain and protect it. So when she tells the subject of "Villain" that "it's alright if you paint me as the villain in your story." Unlike other songs tackling similar themes, Darling delivers those words without an ounce of bitterness. Neither does she attempt any cloying remediation ("where's the glory in that"). Instead, Darling croons with nothing but acceptance for the way things are. "At last, I can live with that," she smiles at the horizon, before turning back to the subject, "can you?" In the dazzling conclusion, she extends this question into a kaleidoscopic encapsulation of the song's discovery. "Can you find somebody who will love you the way that I do?" It can mean a lot of things for Rosie Darling; it can mean a lot of things to the subject of "Villain;" and, hopefully, it can mean a lot to you. For me, it's the genuine hope that we might all find the people who will accept us for our present selves.

Born in Boston before moving to LA, Rosie Darling has honed her confessional songwriting through stunningly-arranged pop. She made a quick breakthrough with the release of her debut EP, Coping, in 2021. The marvelous six-track project showcased a young artist with a clear-eyed vision for her sound. "Villian" is the fourth single teasing towards her upcoming debut LP. Each track has demonstrated artistic growth and and fresh ideas while maintaining the minimalist beauty of her prior work. She refers to these songs as her most vulnerable to date, and it's easy to see why as she navigates relationships and maturing from complex angles. "Villain" released alongside an accompanying music video of Darling on a rocky beach, mirroring the song's opening.

Written Andy M.

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