On the precipice of the pandemic, Cliff Cardinal was in a toxic relationship with cocaine. While stuck at home with nothing much to do, his contemporary life became the subject of the latest release from Cliff Cardinal & The Sky-Larks, “Suicidal Valentine.”
Cardinal wrote the song while attempting to manage his fraught situation, creating the song of his addiction as a toxic relationship. “I spent a lot of nights sleeping at the studio and resenting the world,” Cardinal explained. “Then COVID happened and offered freedom. The pandemic created an artificial cessation of drug abuse.”
In “Suicidal Valentine,” Clifford pours out his heart over guitar and drum beat that offer a fuzzy sound that matches the chaos of his mind at that stage of his life. The artist declares himself his lover’s sacrificial lamb through distorted vocals that display desperation.
This song serves as the title track of the Toronto-based band’s newest album, establishing a clear theme for the project, the work for which was started during the height of lockdowns.
“I wrote the songs ‘Suicidal Valentine,’ ‘Yellowknife,’ and ‘Your Dress’ at home and started sending the parts to the Sky-Larks,” Cardinal said. “The Sky-Larks were, I guess, pretty bored. But we were getting in the habit of ‘jamming’ from home from some online concert events, so we started sending tracks to our bandmate and producer, Justin McWilliams.”
While this was happening, the band grew tighter even if distances weren’t always as close. All of that emotion and then some are expressed on this record, and “Suicidal Valentine” is a bellwether for the project’s tone.
Cliff Cardinal & The Sky-Larks, which also includes drummer Patrick Ferrigan, consider themselves to be genre-free, unwilling to let the bounds of one musical lane contain them. Honed by a hilarious and nefarious style, the band produces protest songs, love ballads, and existential raps through an Indigenous lens. Substance abuse, self-loathing, dark themes, and plenty of catchy hooks are rife within their music. “Suicidal Valentine” is no exception.
Cardinal is doing better now than he was when “Suicidal Valentine” outlined his regular mental state. Thankfully, his reliance on drugs is well past the stage of toxicity. But for those who have experienced or are experiencing a similar struggle, his story will resonate.
“Suicidal Valentine” is available now.