Cycle, the fourth studio album from dream pop singer-songwriter Michael Rider (they/ them), releases May 13th with Grimalkin Records. The album is partially inspired by their first album Lighthouse passing its ten year anniversary, being originally released in 2011. 

After years of working with several producers to create their last full-length album Temptation, Rider decided to take the creative process in a different direction, opting to work in- depth with three collaborators: Brooklyn-based pop artist M the Myth, Voyager Sound Studio’s Nathan Feler, and multi-instrumentalist Richard L. Entrup. Although the majority of the album was made over Zoom, Rider described the process as being “intuitive, seamless, and fun” and called the record one that “made itself.” 

The album is a revisit of themes discussed in their previous works, namely their pursuit of healthy relationships, both romantically and with themself. Rider reflects on why they find themself stuck in a cycle of toxicity where they fall into the same kind of destructive love time and time again. The lyrics also delve into the duality present in the different phases of life one encounters and how one must embrace its dialect in order to find balance both internally and externally. “Looking at both sides of the coin gives me the insight to challenge myself and hopefully make a positive personal change.” The track list is a response to itself, with the topics in the first half of the album being reversed in the back half. 

The opener “Tower” is about feeling disconnected from others while the closer “Battle of Heart” is about the discomfort that comes when finally faced with intimacy and vulnerability. This back and forth continues through discussion of the desires and fears that come with love and accepting them. The introspective nature of the project mirrors both Rider’s personal growth and artistic maturity over the past decade, responding to the anger and confusion of their debut work. 

Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Rider migrated to New York City on a visual art scholarship in 2013. They played open mics at the Sidewalk Cafe, the birthplace of anti-folk, amongst contemporaries such as Brett Gleason, Siv Disa, and Prince Johnny. Inspired by the work of Tori Amos, Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell, Rider sings of the anxieties of life while mixing the traditional piano of their past with innovative electronic production, creating an ethereal pop experience.

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