“Games” by Heather Mall is as nostalgic as it gets. The vintage keyboard sounds paired with the vibrant, emotive, chord structure create a unique foundation for a liberating vocal performance–and, much like the pop queens of the 90s/early 2000s, Heather really brings the heat. Her vocals embody control, power, and undeniable skill. Not to mention, the harmonies are absolutely killer. If you ever miss the angsty power ballads of your childhood, “Games” is the song for you.
The track begins with a dramatic swell into this high-attack, mallet-adjacent, reverb-drenched keyboard riff. It’s difficult to describe the sound in words but if you hear it, you’ll recognize its cogent, sentimental power. On top of that, we’re gifted with these sly, precocious lyrics about rejecting someone’s advances. Each phrase has some kind of allusion to a game, like “Sometimes these games are a bit taboo,” or “I’m not gonna risk it.” You almost have to listen back a few times to catch them all, as she’s managed to pass many of the lines off as natural, unassuming idioms. That being said, the sound and lyricism come together to give this song an element of fun–and while the idea of unwanted flirtation isn’t inherently amusing, Heather portrays it through that lens for a delightful, unexpected listening experience.
If we skip to the last minute or so of the song, our focus shifts to the musical content. By this point, Heather is belting high-pitched melodies, background vocals are swarming the mix, and the instrumentation is a bit more driving and rhythmic. This is where you get the opportunity to turn your brain off and let yourself melt into the music. You understand the concept. You’ve heard the chorus once or twice. Now, you can tap your foot and sing along because, at the end of the day, it’s extremely catchy.
Be sure to give Heather Mall a listen and a follow! “Games” is truly a wonder of songwriting and performance.
Written by Alyce Lindberg
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