Track Review: mars // Yungblud

This article was originally published on The Indiependent

Yungblud’s forthcoming album WEIRD! is self-described as being “like a series of Skins”, but perhaps Misfits is a better TV comparison: his new single ‘mars’ is an anthem for anyone who has ever felt uncomfortable in their skin. The track dropped on 27th November, ahead of the release of his new album, expected via Locomotion Recordings/Interscope Records on 4th December. 

‘mars’ tells the story of a transgender girl that the pop-punk artist met at the Vans Warped Tour in 2018, epitomised by the lyric: “But she can’t be herself when she’s somebody else”. The girl’s parents rejected her gender identity originally, however, after she took them to a Yungblud show they started to accept it and embrace her for who she was. Dominic Harrison, who embraces androgyny and femininity as key parts of Yungblud’s aesthetic, said: “It made me cry to think that we could have that kind of impact and change people’s perceptions, just by being ourselves.”

That Harrison chooses to write about not fitting in is unsurprising; growing up in Doncaster he struggled with his own sense of difference. He told Rolling Stone: “Where I grew up, putting on make-up or wearing a skirt or even playing rock music was not really seen as honest.”

Of course, playing dress up and feeling like you are born in the wrong skin are wildly different experiences and to conflate the two would be to undermine the struggles many transgender individuals go through. But it’s nice of Harrison, an artist who is so evidently comfortable in his own skin, to write tunes that highlight some of the struggles that the LGBTQ+ community face. 

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On the face of it, ‘mars’ is a nice, heartwarming story about a girl who found acceptance. But as the lyrics point out, the story of ‘alienation’ is a far too familiar one: “Yeah, this story told too many times, it makes me sad”. Themes of escapism and a desire to find a more accepting community ‘out of this world’ are epitomised by the repeated refrain of “Is there any life on Mars?” in the chorus, and the rhetorical questioning in the bridge: “Do you feel like you’re irrelevant? / Do you feel like you’re just scared as fuck?”

Driven by Harrison’s breathy high-powered vocal, the track is supported by a simple guitar refrain, increasing in urgency as the song reaches a crescendo: a call to arms for anyone who has ever felt out of place to rally and show up for one another in this weird old world. 

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