Marlon Williams

My Boy (Dead Oceans)

Contact Jessica Linker about Marlon Williams

New Zealand singer-songwriter Marlon Williams presents a new single/video, “Don’t Go Back,” from his forthcoming album, My Boy, out this Friday, September 9th on Dead Oceans. My Boy sees Williams firmly having fun, even while interrogating the behaviors of himself and those around him. This is clear in “Don’t Go Back,” the album’s sultry, dance floor pop centerpiece. The song and its accompanying, self-directed video calls back to Williams’ debauched ‘party boy’ character of 2018’s Make Way For Love. Of the video, Marlon explains “it closely follows the narrative of the song, best summed up in the hackneyed old adage ‘nothing good happens after midnight.’ I play a sort of furry guardian angel (inspired very loosely by Frank the Rabbit from Donnie Darko), who leans on his young charge to turn away from the debauched scene of a house party and head back home. The young man heads in anyways and checks it out before pretty promptly deciding to heed the advice and get the hell out of dodge.”


“There are a lot of New Romantic influences in ‘Don’t Go Back,’” comments Williams. “I love the songwriting and over-the-topness of bands like Duran Duran. I was too young to have a sense of it the first time around, but at least to the modern ear there’s a silliness to the pathos in that music that definitely had an influence on the tone of the record.” The song was recorded north of Auckland, in a house surrounded by the native New Zealand ruru, traditionally a guardian of the night, whose call may portend good or evil. The rurus were deafeningly loud, inspiring Williams to find a synth analogue to mirror their hoot. On the track Williams sings “Tērā te tangi a te ruru,” which translates to “That’s the cry of the owl.”


My Boy is Williams emerging anew. Gone is the solemn, country-indebted crooner with the velvet voice – in his place comes a playful, shapeshifting creature. Following the release of Make Way For Love, Williams’ toured the world, playing major festivals and collaborating with Lorde, Yo-Yo Ma and Florence Welch. He also forged a fledgling acting career with roles in films The True History of the Kelly Gang and Netflix series Sweet Tooth, as well as a cameo in Oscar winning film A Star Is Born. My Boy parlays this flush of worldly experience into a vivid record as spirited and kinetic as the unfolding life of its performer.


Co-produced with Tom Healy and recorded at Roundhead Studios in New Zealand, My Boy finds Williams’ leading a new band through a set of intentional genre-hopping tunes: from the cheery sway of “My Boy” and chugging ‘80s noir sheen of “Thinking Of Nina,” to the charging synth of “River Rival,” and today’s “Don’t Go Back.”