Massachusetts singer-songwriter Ella Williams, a.k.a. Squirrel Flower, will release a new album called Planet (i) this summer. The follow-up to her 2020 debut album, I Was Born Swimming, which earned her a spot as a Rolling Stone Artist You Need to Know, arrives June 25th on Polyvinyl Records.
Squirrel Flower’s first single from the album is a grungy slow-burner called “Hurt a Fly,” where she sings about miscommunications over guitars that gradually build in intensity and distortion. “Took it too far again/Thought that you were my friend,” Williams begins, later pleading, “Have you never made a mistake?/Have you never said what you didn’t wanna say?”
In a statement, Williams explained that she wrote the lyrics in character: “‘Hurt a Fly’ is me embodying a persona of gaslighting, narcissistic soft-boy type shit. The classic, ‘Sorry I acted violently, I’m not mad that you got upset at me, wanna hang out next week?’ I wanted to see what it was like to be a character trying to skirt around accountability. It’s an angry and unhinged song.”
In the music video for “Hurt a Fly,” directed by Ryan Schnackenberg, Williams rolls around on the ground in a plastic bubble (sort of like a more psychologically unsettling version of the ones Flaming Lips use at their shows). The press statement includes a tale of an odd occurrence at the video shoot: “A stranger filmed me practicing choreography at a public park, submitted it to a meme page making fun of ‘influencers,’ and the video got 1,000,000 views, which in my mind is perfect thematically.”
Squirrel Flower recorded Planet (i) in Bristol, England, with producer Ali Chant and musicians including Portishead’s Adrian Utley. In her Artist You Need to Know interview last year, Williams mentioned some of the themes she was thinking about for her next LP: “I’d say now my relationship with water is one of being in awe and being terrified by the power of it. The power of there being too much of it, and also of there being none, in relation to climate change.”