Michael Malarkey, of CW’s The Vampire Diaries fame, recently released his first EP, Feed the Flames. The EP utilizes familiar bohemian themes to perfection, and promises Malarkey strong ground to become a headliner of the genre.
Malarkey’s unusual, deep voice is captivating and adds great depth and mystery to already curious tracks. Malarkey samples heavily in guitar riffs and rock undertones which gives even more strength to his powerful voice.
The title track, “Feed the Flames,” paints a curious and winding love tale that centers around a dangerous passion for a person who is tangled and uncertain. Malarkey’s lyrics remain a mystery throughout much of the album, but his passion for the riddles he’s written does enough to compensate.
“Through the Night and Back Again” proves a lighter and less convoluted track, though Malarkey sticks with winding and obscure lyrics. At the start, Malarkey uses a fun metaphor of a carved pumpkin for his heart, “dress it up like someone else’s nightmare / a candle flickering alive inside / and I will keep it scowling on the doorstep of my love / so others are afraid to go inside.” The creativity of the verses gives a lightheartedness to the album that most dark voices seem to avoid.
Written for a friend’s wedding, and since dedicated to his own wife, in “The Bells Still Ring” Malarkey croons a charming love story, which gives optimism to the track. The honesty of the track alongside the simplistic beauty of his love makes it a champion of love songs in the genre.
“Lost and Sound” is another that diverts from the tendency of deep voices to lean towards darker sounds. The song beams of hope and joy for humanity, and provides a comfortable break from the love centered tracks around it.
“Everything’s Burned” is my personal favorite on the EP. Sampling heavily from bohemian foot-stomping tunes, Malarkey reaches the peak of his nonsensical lyrics, however this time it is on purpose. Malarkey claims the song was written from scraps of lyrics that he’d drunkenly scrawled on a bar napkin one night. His deep, nearly sinister voice, accompanied by the hoots and hollers of backup vocalists and snapping guitar riffs paired with strong drum beats, makes this song the paramount track of the EP.
The album covers a variety of tones and topics, which gives great hope to Malarkey’s career as a singer-songwriter, as most in the genre tend to fall into a repetitive slump. There’s great promise in Malarkey, and with any luck, he’ll continue to deliver.