Twenty-one year old Pasadena-based artist Charlie Hickey released his acclaimed debut album Nervous At Night in May via his longtime friend, collaborator and label boss Phoebe Bridgers’ Saddest Factory Records. The gorgeous 11 track record produced by Marshall Vore, includes contributions from fellow musicians Harrison Whitford, Christian Lee Hutson and Mason Stoops. Hickey details life’s graceless passage between teenage years and adulthood, and all of the noise that permeates. With all of the talent surrounding him, it’s Hickey’s remarkable voice, masterful songwriting and relatable storytelling that shine through on Nervous At Night.
Hickey has returned with “Choir Song (I Feel Dumb) 2.0,” a reimagining of one of the understated highlights from the album. The new version replaces the chiming pianos that introduce the original, instead leading with chugging guitars that quickly transport the song into a series of cathartic releases, underpinned by lofty electronics that eventually give way to blasts of synth and pitch-shifted vocals that shoot for the sky.
Speaking of the track, Hickey adds: “There have been many iterations of this song since we wrote it. This one came before the current version and was almost the album version. Everyone we played it for either loved it or hated it, which means to me that we succeeded at something. We indulged our love for hyper-pop and glossy, commercial emo and ended up making something that sounds nothing like any of those things! I like that the album version really brings out the sadness of the song and this version brings out the teeth of it a bit more. At this point, I couldn’t tell you which is the definitive version and which is the ‘remix’. That’s for you to decide now!”
Nervous at Night shifts between quiet, heavy-hearted ballads and gleaming, hook-laden tracks. While Hickey calls the album a pop record, he admits that sonically it moves in many directions, an amalgamation of his love for folk singers of yesteryear and more contemporary peers, from Taylor Swift and The 1975, to Elliott Smith, to Conor Oberst. Like those heroes, Hickey shares a clarity in his songs that is specific in its songwriting but still inviting, open and generous.