“Half Life,” the latest song from Los Angeles-via-Chicago artist appleby, feels like the sprint at the end of a marathon. The athlete-turned-musician’s new single follows his debut EP Happiness in 2018, giving a clearer look at appleby’s creative anxiety, self-doubt, and the desire to shed an old self.
The patter of a piano riff on the track opens into resolute chords that then interlock between a clanking industrial beat. Synths and electronic flourishes flitter and blink across each other. There’s an immediacy to the single, and it’s not only because there are lyrics that ring anxiously, like “I’m stuck in this half life / And I don’t know what to do.” The track never reaches a resolution—instead, it’s three minutes of pushing through a brick wall of mental anguish, mapping out where one can jump over life’s unending obstacles. The song’s greatest strength is its unsatisfactory end, making it an easy, repeatable balm for those dreading failure.
“The writing process for ‘Half Life’ was organic and borderline magical,” he shared. “It fell out of me like the idea was in a rush to exist. Much of the evening is blurry but I recorded it all in one night. I remember my room feeling suffocating like the walls were closing in. My hands felt like matchsticks and if I didn’t write about it immediately, I’d burn my room down. I threw myself head first into songwriting because it felt like the escape I desperately needed.”
Listen to “Half Life” below.