Home Music Music Features

Song You Need to Know: PIPSY, ‘Stuck In My Brain’

A pop song about anxiety, inspired by the David Bowie-starring ‘Labyrinth’? Of course you’re interested


Sara Tansy

Some of the best songs ever made play a trick on us: they are upbeat, singalong anthems, but often the lyrics tell a completely different story (think “Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac).

Wellington-based PIPSY achieve a similar feat on their new single “Stuck In My Brain”, their first release since last year’s well-received debut album, All You Ever Wanted.

Combining aspects of disco, ’80s rock, and early ’00s pop, the layers in “Stuck In My Brain” are almost soothing, aided by bandleader Paul Pouwels McMillan’s chilled vocals.

For listeners seeking a deeper message, “Stuck In My Brain” touches on anxiety and personal insecurities, as McMillan explains: “Generally speaking the track is about anxiety. I’d been reading about the origins and mythology of the Labyrinth, and made this connection between overthinking and getting stuck inside of a maze.

“You can endlessly explore and pick apart all of your fears, doubts, and insecurities, but in the end you just get lost in this maze, and you have to be careful not to get swallowed up by it all. After all, what better material is there for a happy indie pop song than crushing anxiety?!

“I wanted the track to sound really sparkly and fun, so after I landed on the theme of the song, I decided to re-watch one of my favourite maze-based, mid-80s fantasy films starring David Bowie, Labyrinth. I thought it would be a playful nod to that film to use some of its synth sounds for the drones underneath the song.

“There are lots of other funky elements that pop in and out throughout the track too, that you mostly just feel, but if you listen carefully you can make them out (including bongos, wood blocks, cowbell, Linn Drum, wurlitzer, and even a bit of sassy triangle in the chorus). I wanted the song to sound really immersive, with lots of ear candy, rewarding multiple listens.”

PIPSY’s next project will be one to look out for if you’re a fan of polished pop, although there’s no word yet on a second album.

In the meantime, fans can catch PIPSY play their polished pop live this weekend when McMillan and their band – drummer Jordan Cossill, bassist Hanna Ott, and guitarist Jorji Lawson – support the Jordan Luck Band at Nelson’s Playhouse Theatre on Saturday.

PIPSY’s “Stuck In My Brain” is out now.