Emerging songwriter Helena Deland has unveiled her new single, “Lylz”. It’s the first preview of her debut album, which is technically unannounced but still expected later this year.
Based in Montreal, Quebec, Deland’s first language is French. So it’s somewhat surprising that her piercing, insightful lyrics are almost entirely in English. She first gained acclaim for her 2018 quartet of EPs Altogether Unaccompanied Vols. I-IV. Since then she’s toured with Weyes Blood and Connan Mockasin, while contributing to JPEGMAFIA’s 2019 album All My Heroes Are Cornballs.
“Lylz” is Deland’s first solo music since Altogether Unaccompanied Vol. IV. The guitars and synths are fuzzy with nostalgia, but the lyrics hide an edge. The song is a meditation on the fabled sisters Lili and Nadia Boulanger. In 1913, Lili became the first woman to win the Prix de Rome composition prize, and seemed set for a brilliant career before dying at 24. Nadia then devoted the rest of her life to promoting Lili’s music.
Deland uses this history as a launchpad to examine adolescent female friendship. “We’ll leave on the sly/ Blasting the Boulanger sisters,” she sings, “And if one of us dies/ The other will make sure/ Her life’s work goes down in history.” The girls’ declarations of affection keep trending toward the morbid, and the desire for fame seems less like youthful ambition and more like a mirthless chore. There’s a feeling that Nadia Boulanger made the wrong choice, neglecting her own life to celebrate her dead sister.
“Lylz” didn’t come with a music video, but Deland did release some creepily fun time-lapse visuals. Check it out below.