After a six-year hiatus, an artist usually plans on making their return with a somewhat catchy tune to bolster the hype. Leading up to the release of “Downhill Lullaby,” however, Sky Ferreira made it clear she was uninterested in previewing her second record, the long-awaited Masochism, with a radio-friendly single. And the song — almost six minutes in length — is anything but friendly. Opening with haunting strings that give way to rattle sounds and menacing drums, Ferreira does not enter until the one-minute mark; “Downhill Lullaby” is not for those of fleeting interest. It is a slow, almost uncomfortable listen to shake off the dead weight the singer must’ve been carrying all these years.
After the extended intro, Ferreira makes reference to an abusive partner, someone who wants to bring her down to their level. With multi-layered vocals that jump in and out of the song at the drop of a hat, the singer dives further into her nightmare, lines such as “you ripped me open, then you kissed me/blue lips and roses that you left me” sung in a painfully uninterested take; so used to this mistreatment that she can’t muster the energy to plead any longer. The track feels like the aural version of drowning, in all sincerity, and the central lyric “going downhill into a lullaby” is more than likely about succumbing to death — perhaps a metaphor for how she has felt under her record label these past few years. Difficult and unrelenting on the listener, “Downhill Lullaby” is also defiant in its composition and an undeniably incredible comeback for Ferreira.