Video Premiere: The epicness of Harley Mavis’ ‘Magnolia’
November 14th 2018
Photo: Maya Luana
Harley Mavis’ stunning sophomore single joins the pantheon of great songs entitled ‘Magnolia’ (see also: Gang of Youths; Playboi Carti).
The follow-up to the Sydney songwriter’s outstanding debut single, ‘No Chance’, opens with some evocatively strummed, faraway guitars and Harley’s earthy vocals singing of how she “needs to find [her] answers” in “tiny cities beneath these woodland streets”. For the first half, Harley constantly plays on the verge of the anthemic, threatening to reach for the ease of epicness but always subverting expectations, such as with this wonderful little twist in the first chorus where her vocals fall instead of rising.
But then, about halfway through, these atmospherics are overtaken by a bustling beat which breaks through and introduces a newfound sense of energy. From there, the song doesn’t let go as a near-overwhelming rock-cophany floods the track. It’s a masterclass in captivating songwriting, unfurling out from the centre in all different directions. One of those songs where you can hear everything – every piece of emotion and backstory – behind it.
Directed by Maya Luana, the visuals cast Harley in a world of pastel-coloured rooms in the midst of Australiana bushland. The charmingly sweet narrative follows Harley as she attempts to fix her world through a series of small, here-and-there, mostly superficial alterations before resolving to tear the whole fucking thing down.
It’s simple but it also captures something surreal about how overwhelming and daunting it can seem to try and find your place as a young person in big cities, in the face of big, capital-I Institutions, all the while knowing that maybe it’s all fake and meaningless anyway, or maybe you spent too much time stressing over stuff that’s not really, capital-I Important.
‘Magnolia’ is epic not because it reaches for it, but because it’s about feeling small in the face of epic things – and choosing to overcome them anyway.