On May 1, Michigan artist Khal Malik, aka Bedtime Khal, released his latest single, “Black Tears.” It’s the first track from his upcoming EP, Fog, and with its dreamy production and lyrical exploration of the self, it gives the project a thesis statement in the form of a pensive post-punk jam.
Press for the track explains it was born of “the anxiety and frustration [Malik] feels as a black man,” and you can hear those feelings in the nervous beat and downcast vocals. “Black Tears” comes from a place of aloneness, but not always introspection, as Malik’s melancholy prompts him to look outwards–his tears are his own, but they “taste like the ocean,” part of a larger, more elemental force.
Malik also points to the connective influence of live music. “Back up, fall down again / We return to the mosh pit / We’re small, we’re large / We fit in when the rhythm hits,” he sings. But then again, as diffuse vocal harmonies stack up, maybe that’s not so much a balm as it is a numbing agent, or another kind of dislocation from the self: “What it means to feel nothing.”
Even as he sings about losing himself in sound, “Black Tears” sees Malik assembling an arrangement with personality–under all the atmospheric haze, the rhythm is satisfyingly tactile, with a driving bass line and delicate, chiming bells. Along with his lyrical voice, it subtly introduces Malik’s style, still to be fleshed out in the EP’s other four solid tracks of emotive guitar melodies and existential angst.