Ailani – photo via their Bandcamp

In case you missed it Ailani Swentzell just released her third album Mortified, a collection of songs that come as further inescapable validation of their rising star status in the indie-pop scene. We also just featured her on our list of Indigenous artists who need to be on your radar. With multiple albums and self-released EPs, she’s carved out a niche for penning emotionally rapt songs matched only by their melodic breadth.

On her debut Endearment, she twists her heart-breaking lyricism through torrents of guitar grumbling and sonorously droning soundscapes. Meandering around the emotionally eviscerating soundscapes she constructs on “Live Without It” and “You Are All I Think About,” Ailani’s deadpan vocals ride the lightly jaunty rhythms that pulse within every track. Then there’s Heartbroken Bones, which arrived as her sophomore release, expanding her lo-fi atmospherics with a far more sonically expansive sound. Songs like “Honestly” and “Alone” carry much of the same driving, melancholic spirit that made her first album so captivating, yet are imbued with newfound aural scope.

But it’s on Mortified that Ailani finds fruition in the musical journey she embarked with the release of her debut. Emerging a little just beyond the heartache that fueled previous songs and as such into a far more sublimely eclectic pop sound. Her vocals on album opener “Starry Eyed” radiate even as she dives into one of her more virulently introspective albums to date. Across tracks like “Liar” and “Tearing Myself Up,” she syncs her lush creations filled with soothing instrumentals and cathartic release to the laundry list of ways she’s mortified at herself. Do yourself a favor and deep dive into Ailani’s incredible discography — this is a new favorite artist just waiting to be found.

“I am proud that I broke out of my usual shell a bit. This isn’t a usual Ailani heartbreak/falling in love album (don’t worry though, you’ll still get a solid share of those themes),” Ailani said. “I delve deeply into my self-hatred through several songs. I wanted to finally start dealing with it, and music is how I deal. Even the title of the album is a reference to the last song, ‘Mortified’ — which is all about how deeply I am mortified by myself. There are so many different things going on in this album, but I like it. I like how it’s sort of unapologetically thrown together. It needs to be because not everything is clean-cut storylines. I hope you enjoy listening to this one. Thank you.”

artist to watch in 2023

Visit Ailani on their Bandcamp and Instagram to stay updated on new releases and tour announcements.

Words by Steven Ward

Listen to Mortified the third album from Ailani below!