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Noël Wells is releasing her first-ever single, “Sunrise,” this week, but there’s a good chance she’s already on your radar. The director and actress was on Saturday Night Live for one season (2013-2014), and she starred as Dev’s (Aziz Ansari) love interest Rachel in the first season of Netflix’s Master of None. But now, she’s diving into an entirely different creative endeavor, though perhaps with just as much comedic edge. Her single, a funny, folksy portrait of an existentialist’s mind, is the first from her forthcoming album due out in spring 2019. You can listen to “Sunrise” below.
Wells picked up the guitar just two years ago, but you’d never know it listening to the expertly layered bass lines and hooks on “Sunrise.” The song seems at first a twee folk number, but listen a bit longer and you’ll find it’s laced with dark humor, sassy jazz production and social satire. Wells begins the song with some run-of-the-mill natural imagery (“Sunrise on the hills / Starlight’s got its fill / Nighttime’s gonna chill”) but then she flexes her comedic muscles, singing, “Take your children to work / Take your spouses to school.” It almost sounds right, but then Wells’ off-kilter angle hits you square in the face: “Need a new state of mind,” she sings. “But baby, who’s got the time?” Her wistful sound will likely attract comparisons to Zooey Deschanel’s She & Him fare or maybe even Norah Jones’ approachable smolder, but there’s something darker in Wells’ “Sunrise.” It’s not a Sunday morning sleeper; it’s a wake-up call.
Here’s what Wells had to say about her first-ever single:
“Sunrise” is about the world we are in being completely upside down. We are all marching off to get things done, feeding ourselves into a system while we put our blinders up to what’s really happening, humming to tune it all out…This song is like if John Lennon had a daughter that got kidnapped by aliens who turned her into a Japanese robot programmed to be a pop star that kills.
And about her forthcoming debut album:
I honestly thought I was going to make an album of moody “Sad Girl” songs … and while the songs still retain that, now they’re also really fun. You can listen and cry and smash shit or dance to them and have sex … At the end of the day, I didn’t want to bum people out, but I do want them to know all the heavy stuff I see and feel, and also that I have a lot of hope that it’s going to be alright.
Again, you can listen to “Sunrise” below. Keep scrolling for the single art, and revisit our 2014 conversation with Noël Wells right here.
“Sunrise” Single Art: