“Habits” single art by John Hewitt

Sometimes, a song comes along that sounds so refreshing not just for its uniqueness, but even more so for its ability to transport one back to a different time altogether. Throwback tracks usually indicate something akin to 1950’s doo-wop, 1970’s funk or 1980’s new wave, but rarely does it delve into a specific part of the 1960’s where art pop reigned. Thankfully, with Genevieve Stokes’ newest single, “Habits,” listeners can now hear a bonafide tribute to such a time period and sound.

At just 21-years-old, Genevieve Stokes has become known for her distinctive alt-pop sensibilities, defined by her intimate, youthful approach to storytelling. Having grown up in Maine, there’s a delicateness to her vocals matched by a hardened, intellectual bent in her lyrics. This is especially true of “Habits,” which has some of the most beautiful lyrics in recent memory like, “I’m stubborn and brittle / Act like I know a lot, but know very little / I’m growing up, but I’m not growing old / And I hate to do anything that I’ve been told,” alongside phrases like, “Love you like oxygen.” There’s an element of Kate Bush to Stokes’ sound and style, mixed with Panic! At The Disco’s second album — which itself drew comparisons to The Beatles’ later baroque music. There’s a warmth to the track, which could be explained by how Stokes says the song came about:

I wrote ‘Habits’ in my parents’ garage last spring – my favorite time of year to make musicThe lyrics are my stream of consciousness, flowing from feelings of self-pity and boredom to my worries about an emotionally turbulent relationship. It’s about longing for change after a dark winter.

“Habits” is, by Stokes’ admittance, ultimately an existential song about change, relationships and life in general, punctuated by the first lines of, “Habits I’m trying to kick, can’t get over it / Lovers I hate to admit are the ghost of it,” and a chorus that achingly states, “It’s always right person and wrong way / I hate to be right, please, tell me I’m wrong.” The piano — on which Stokes is impeccable — is clear and bright, overlayed with more instrumentation that makes one feel like they’re gently wafting through the breeze, yet a storm could arrive at any minute. It’s a deeper song than the first listen would allow one to believe, and a true testament to how pop music can be both highly entertaining and intellectually stimulating, as it was back in the 1960’s.

Genevieve Stokes released her debut EP, Swimming Lessons, to critical and commercial acclaim last year, with 16+ million streams — having amassed 7+ million streams of her original music on her own beforehand. More music and information on her output is forthcoming. In the meantime, listen to her latest single, “Habits,” below!

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