An Anthem For Anxiety | “Icing on the Cake” – Grace Ives


Kayla Effner, Writer/Volunteer

Queens-based synth popper Grace Ives released this anxiety-inspired anthem on her album titled 2nd this past April. Long before this project, Ives has been exploring unique sounds and feelings through her production. When we think synthesizer, we usually think dance music, right? Or the iconic lo-fi hip hop chill beats to study to, of course. 

Ives, however, has been displaying an emotionally complex take on the genre since her 2016 EP Really Hot. The tracks on this project, as well as on 2nd, are generally brief and experimental in nature. Despite quite simple vocal performances, Ives has found an effective way to showcase a range of emotions from melancholy to rage.

Icing on the Cake” is a perfect example of this, with its surrealist pairing of an upbeat tempo and introverted lyrics. She shares her limited tolerance for social interaction with the lines, “I just want to go back home and be alone in my bed / I just wanna get it done so it don’t get to my head.” This message is one that her audience resonates with deeply, and she uses an interesting and symbolic mechanism to deliver it through.

The music video for “Icing on the Cake” further illustrates the unnerving, manic energy captured in the song. On a black backdrop, you see a panel of dressed-up blank faces lip syncing and gorging themselves with brightly colored cake. Director Mary Dauterman, who has won several awards for her dreamy short films, captured the hypothetical social setting in a way that makes it not only unappealing, but completely grotesque – much like how it may appear to someone with anxiety.

Featured image by Mary Kang; retrieved from FADER.