Ever since the release of her debut album “Kicker” in 2015, Zella Day has consistently delivered the kind of hypnotic indie pop-rock gems that invite listeners to dim the lights and lose themselves in a haze of smoke. Considering the strong influence of 60’s era psychedelia on her music and the frequency with which her lyrics mention marijuana (including the ultra-seductive 2020 single “Purple Haze”, which certainly dominated my Spotify Wrapped playlist that year), it might be surprising that “Mushroom Punch” is her first song that plays with the classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but the payoff is worth the wait.
The track unfurls with a gentle guitar riff underscored by a simple drum beat that work together to conjure the feeling of a southwestern sunset. Immediately, the Arizona-born singer opts for melodrama and metaphor, lamenting a lover who “has [her] heart and tries to sell it / for a guitar and rolling papers”. Perhaps understanding that Alice-related imagery could be considered overwrought, Day shows restraint with her allusions, and the idea of one might “mushroom punch [their] way down the rabbit hole” rather than the far more passive and traditional falling is a welcome spin on what otherwise might run the danger of cliche. The song’s oscillation from stripped-back, twangy verses to the explosive vocals in the chorus and then the deliciously sleazy electric guitar of the bridge parallel the feeling of growing and shrinking along with Alice consuming everything she finds labeled “Eat Me” or “Drink Me”. Ultimately, the single – which is the fifth off Day’s upcoming album, “Sundays in Heaven” – leaves listeners ready for more of whatever tea she’s brewing.