After the release of “Sid and Nancy,” a slow-pop haze of emotional lyrics and the most fitting usage of the eponymous romantic tropes, Keni has landed back on Earth. The 19-year old, who is making a name for herself with her gut-wrenchingly honest lyrics and stories about unrequited love and real-life friendships, has debuted “Proximity,” for sure one of the best, most danceable tracks in her discography. Of “Proximity,” Keni said in a statement, “I wrote this song about being infatuated with someone who literally isn’t aware of your existence. The feelings I was having writing it started to feel very high school to me so there’s a lot of references directly related to experiences I had at that time; specifically with boys who didn’t know my name.”
Listening to “Proximity” is like sitting at one of the wooden tables in your homeroom class, the ones with an inordinate amount of chewed gum underneath. While the teacher drones on with only five minutes until the bell rings, you sneak out your iPod and earbuds, plug them in, and press play, staring at the back of the head of the object of your affections, sitting two rows ahead of you. Imagine that then, a simple, catchy guitar riff. Keni’s ragged, immediately recognizable voice starts to narrate the story of her average day — waiting for the crush/current love of your life to finally throw you a sign that they like you back.
The chorus wails: “I gotta know what’s behind those doors / Close Proximity / I wanna live between your teeth.” With a slightly humorous, slightly too relatable refrain of “You’re so close I can’t breathe” and the standout second verse lyric “I drink up the words from your mouth like I’ve never heard before,” the listener knows just what this song wants you to feel in the shoes of the storyteller: so in love, so weak in the knees, you seem to lose your head in a lovestruck daze/anxious mess all for someone who won’t even give you the time of day.
For the accompanying music video, Keni enlisted friend and director extraordinaire Aerin Moreno. The duo previously collaborated for the surrealist-leaning “Sid and Nancy” music video. Now very much based in reality, through Keni’s artistic sensibility and Moreno’s outstanding creative leadership, the music video transports us into a period piece of the ’90s — think the works of pop girls like Christina Aguilera, with a special shoutout to Britney Spears’s iconic “..Baby One More Time.” Though meant to draw homage, the video itself is so refreshingly distinct — with sparkled motifs, over-exposed shots, and a real-life high school as the background for Keni and her girl squad (who choreographed the video) to try and find out what’s going on in their latest crush’s head, a process that Keni describes as “those hopeless, awkward and honestly sickening crushes that made the day worth it.”
Another noteworthy aspect is the bright colors seen in the small corners of the video for “Sid and Nancy” are now used as the main color schemes for the video, as if our musical protagonist has finally found the sort of all-consuming love she once sang so longingly about, or perhaps, she has fallen down her very same rabbit hole of loving someone who wouldn’t even glance at her, as we watch from the top.