Take a glimpse at the social media of songwriter Nicholas Mallis and you’ll quickly spot a crowning achievement for any aspiring artist trying to Make It: product placement. Authenticity of potential paid partnerships aside, this tongue-in-cheek approach to branding oneself with common household goods—Pillsbury cookie dough, Crest toothpaste, Barbasol shaving cream, Coca-Cola Cherry, Pepto Bismol—is both suburban and subversive. It undermines a fragile system in which disguised endorsements are exchanged for exposure and clout, and reminds us of the absurdity of living in a world where even repping antidiarrheals is hyper-competitive.
Following the release of The Final Station, which appeared last June via Laser Brain Records, Mallis began working on a new album, fittingly called Product Placement. Using commercial jingles as launching point, the songs weave in personal and fantastic vignettes—presumably tapping into the science of writing catchy earbugs, with enough pop sensibility to keep things feeling human.
An album release date has not yet been determined due to the pandemic, but singles and videos will be shared throughout the year until then. Today, Mallis shares the first single, “Welcome to Village Heights,” which was recorded and mixed at home studio, then mastered by Jesse Mangum of The Glow Recording Studio.
“The chorus of ‘Welcome to Village Heights’ is supposed to sort of sound like a real estate agent’s TV commercial,” says Mallis. “I got the idea when my friend Austin and I were running together in the neighborhood and riffing on different house buying lingo to some funny melodies. With the arrangement, I tried to channel some of Pure Moods, the majestic easy listening collection from the ‘90s.”
Below, listen to “Welcome to Village Heights,” a shimmery pop track that makes the idea of home ownership sound like pure fantasy.
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