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Ricky Montgomery’s Melancholic Love Spell in His Sophomore Album ‘Rick’

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Pace chapter.

I was first introduced to Ricky Montgomery in March of 2020, a month in time that we are all dreadfully familiar with. My high school had just shut down, and I spent my dull mornings tiptoeing downstairs to cuddle with my new puppy on our beaten-down La-Z-Boy, popping in my AirPods to put on my Spotify-curated “Discover Weekly” playlist. I have always loved finding new music, but during this gloomy time, all the sounds meshed together as I mindlessly gazed out my living room blinds and wondered when everything would go back to normal. That’s when I first heard The Honeysticks’ debut single, “Out Like A Light,” a heart-wrenching ballad of despair and longing for impossibility. I immediately felt connected to the strings and vocals and was strongly drawn to the language of the song. The beginning of the last chorus cuts most of the instrumental except for a deep, brooding mating call, sampled from the “Loneliest Whale in the World,” a sea creature believed to have spent its entire life longingly calling out for a partner. I was spellbound by The Honeysticks’ grand, reverbed sound, as well as their wide range. I admired that they were capable of going from “Out Like A Light,” a single with great emotional complexity to “Better,” a more satirical and upbeat tune with the same sentiment at its core. When opening myself up to their discography, however, I saw that they only had three other songs out at the time. That is when I saw another artist tagged under the song title, Ricky Montgomery, and became absolutely enamored.

Although he only had one 10-track album, I was very drawn in by Montgomery’s sound. He was able to match various moods, singing both more upbeat rock as well as slower love songs reminiscent of “Out Like A Light.” He soon became much more mainstream after Tiktok virality with “Mr. Loverman” and “Line Without a Hook,” which only piqued my interest further. As soon as concerts started up again, I saw him back home in Dallas and had one of my best concert experiences yet. With both him and his band’s more limited discographies, he was able to play every single song from both of their catalogs, resulting in a fully satisfied audience. Soon after I moved to New York City for college, he headlined an event through one of our campus organizations. Although Montgomery wasn’t able to play each and every song like in Dallas, I was front row and he gave me the microphone twice, so I was absolutely ecstatic. When I wasn’t seeing him live, I sat patiently waiting for a new album announcement.

Over the years, Montgomery had been releasing a single or feature here and there but still hadn’t released a full LP (long play) for seven years. Finally, this past summer, he announced that his sophomore album, Rick, would be released on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023. He later posted that, a few days before Rick’s release, he would be doing a free advanced listening party in Central Park. I asked my roommate to tag along and we excitedly skipped to the train station.

The experience was unforgettable. When we arrived, it was pouring rain accompanied by some pretty hectic winds. Luckily, his team planned for this, as the listening party was scheduled to be at Bethesda Terrace, a sheltered area of the park. As soon as he walked out, you could feel the energy shift. It’s an incredible feeling to be able to enjoy music together with other people, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic stripped it from us for so long. While his album played, he came through the crowd and met everyone individually. To be able to speak to an artist who got me through such an odd time in the world and shake his hand was such a surreal feeling, and his kind sincerity allowed me to value his music so much more. He then performed a couple of his songs acoustically, inviting a fan to accompany him on guitar during “Out Like a Light” as songbirds flew around them. During “Mr. Loverman,” another musician began playing very obnoxiously across the terrace, unintentionally, beginning a war as we sang loud enough for all of Central Park to hear. It was incredibly refreshing to not only meet an artist whose music I admire so deeply face-to-face but to finally hear his new project, which is already among my favorites.

Rick is a beautiful whirlwind of nostalgia and melancholia. He knows exactly how to create a hybrid of love, longing, and self-reflection. It is dedicated to his dad, Rik Montgomery, who died by suicide when Montgomery was just a teenager, with the final track delving into his passing. Here is my review of each song on the record:

“One Way Mirror”

“One Way Mirror” is quite a tender and raw opener — setting the tone for the record. It’s an initially quiet and soft tune of regret later rounded out by a climactic and heart-wrenching orchestral bridge. He captures the feeling of not knowing exactly who you are through the swell of strings, horns, and gloomy lyrics.

“Boy Toy”

In contrast, “Boy Toy” is very upbeat with fun vocal runs throughout. It’s likely a purposeful surprise, as the first 10 seconds include a quiet conversation, very suddenly interrupted by a “Hey!” as the song begins. It’s the most recent single from the album, one full of insecurity masked by a fun beat. He is convinced that he isn’t the right guy for his love interest. So, he creates a caricature of himself, dumbing himself down so that she can do whatever she would like with him.

“Truth or Dare”

“Truth or Dare” is a dreary, yet catchy track about his experience with drinking and drugs in his adolescence and how normalized it was. He highlights the fun of it, but hints at peer-pressuring situations and deconstructs multiple scary experiences he had doing drugs with friends. He equates this behavior to a popular game so that he doesn’t have to deal with how serious the subject matter is.

“I’m Just Joking in this Interlude (Interlude)”

After this, there is “I’m Just Joking in this Interlude (Interlude),” the first of a few interludes. He provides us with a recorded phone call between Montgomery and his mother, where she shares a story about his father’s caring behavior towards her when she was sick. It’s both a heartwarming and humorous glimpse of him and his mother’s banter, providing us with a first peek into their relationship dynamic.

“In Your Pocket”

“In Your Pocket” is my most-listened track thus far on the album. The chorus has some beautiful harmonies on top of a catchy drum beat. He first jokingly reflects on some of his insecurities as a singer-songwriter, and how he thinks it may go downhill from here. He opens up about the same insecurities that he expressed in “Boy Toy,” again referring to himself as an inanimate object of sorts to just “put in your pocket” where he prioritizes serving his love interest rather than being equals. He tries to be understanding of her possible uncertainty with the relationship but begs her to not give him the wrong idea.

“Don’t Say That”

Montgomery then full-force begins to sing “Don’t Say That,” a single similarly as upbeat as “Boy Toy,” but more clearly rooted in self-hatred. It features a guitar melody that is very Nintendo-DS-game-background-esque to me, which I hear a lot throughout the album, making it feel quite personable and nostalgic. He talks about being in denial of how bad his state of mental health is, and how he feels as if he can’t justify it. The chorus loudly repeats a line that he repeats to himself to try to mask this feeling and pretend like he’s fine. These vocals cut through stronger than anything else on the album thus far, and it also features a call-and-response at the end of the chorus where he tries to normalize this way of living. The track ultimately paints him in a state of delusion and underlying fear as he tries to stay afloat.


“Eraser” was the first single that Montgomery released for the album, coming out earlier this spring. It serves as a solid foreground for the indie pop feel of the record, acting as a happy medium for tempo and tone alike. The song follows the dilemma of staying with what you know versus taking a leap of faith for something potentially better while he reflects on past experiences. The pre-chorus acts as a dramatic moment of self-reflection, as his past seems to haunt and call out to him. How important is the past, truly, when you can erase it and move on to better? 

“We Got Married Twice (Interlude)”

The second interlude, “We Got Married Twice (Interlude),” features another phone call recording of his mother, as she shares another anecdote about his father where they quickly decided to get married at the park. It highlights the spontaneity and adventurous attitude of his late father, giving us something to hold in our hearts for the remainder of the album.

“Type A”

“Type A” is without a doubt the most high-energy, danceable song on the album. It follows Montgomery’s love interest and how connected he feels to her through their similar personalities. He mentions that they also bond over talking badly about their fathers, deepening our understanding of the emotional complexity of him and his father’s relationship.

“Paper Towel”

“Paper Towel” also feels incredibly nostalgic to me through the guitar riff, as the instrumental instantly takes me back to an early-2000s computer game. This track is very melancholic, tackling a difficult relationship that he has with someone who will not accept his help, contrasted with a fun drumbeat. He has to watch this individual struggle on their own and inherently undo some of their relationship foundation. He reminds them that he wants to see them succeed, but feels incredibly stuck.

“Sometimes I Need to Be Alone”

My favorite track on the album was immediately “Sometimes I Need to Be Alone.” The song begins very quietly, as Montgomery sings in distorted acapella with an occasional piano. The tone of the song changes quite unexpectedly when we reach the chorus, presenting instrumental and low vocals that I find to be very reminiscent of Gorillaz. He inserts another call-and-response, this time juxtaposing his certainty about his relationship with fear that it will not work out. It’s a standout instrumentally, and I find it to be the most adventurous on the album.

“Ethan’s Song”

During the listening party, Montgomery told the group that “Ethan’s Song” was the only one that he couldn’t take writing credit for, as his best friend, Ethan, wrote it when they were hanging out together in college. It’s the shortest non-interlude, and arguably the most simplistic and wholesome. He knows that there is so much he still has to learn in life, and deems himself clueless, but has tunnel vision on loving and living for a specific individual in his life. The song is a selfless tribute to that individual.

“Black Fins”

I find “Black Fins” to be the best song on the record. It is a perfect final full-length song and is the most heartbreaking, personal, and emotionally complex on the album. It’s explicitly about his father’s suicide and the impact that it had on him. He uses “black fins” as a metaphor for the death. The death was believed to be from a scuba accident on a beach in Mexico, but after finding some notes left behind, it was seemingly not an accident. Montgomery still has a photo of his dad washed up on shore, and the only thing that hasn’t faded away is the black fins on his feet. His father’s passing haunted him for years, and he’s trying to accept that he will never get the answer for why he left them. He raises the question, “If your ashes sprang to life, would you just let me down?,” as a reminder that they didn’t have a perfect relationship before his death. The song has the most intense climax of anything on the album and encapsulates all of his heartbreak, confusion, and anger. It’s the most structurally sound track and Montgomery is at his best lyrically. 

“Ribbons (Outro)”

“Ribbons (Outro)” follows him asking his mother to provide the album with any closing thoughts. She talks about the significance of ribbons and how they signify connectedness, love, and innocence, resulting in the title.

Rick is a fantastic autumn record, and I don’t see myself parting from it anytime soon. Ricky Montgomery validated his seven-year writing process by presenting us with a cohesive, emotional, and personable project that will stand the test of time.

Grace Jeffrey is thrilled to be Her Campus at Pace's treasurer for the 2024-2025 school year! She enjoys writing pieces within the scope of film, music, and other areas of pop culture, as well as themes revolving around facets of her current home — New York City. While living in her hometown in North Texas, Grace became immersed in the worlds of filmmaking and writing. In high school, she began taking more advanced film and writing courses and became a finalist in her district’s film festival. She has also worked at a local ice cream shop as well as professionally pet-sitting. In college, Grace is currently majoring in Film and Screen Studies with a minor in Arts and Entertainment Management. She is Head of Marketing at Rainy Day Productions, Social Media Manager in Pace Film Club, and holds roles in many other organizations. She also works at AMC Theaters, her favorite movie theater chain. In her free time, Grace loves going to concerts, the movie theatre, and browsing the city — whether it's with friends or solo! However, most importantly, she loves starting scripts and creating brand new cinematic universes. On Mondays, she co-hosts Cinema GEMs, a movie-tell-all with her best friend Emma on their college radio station. When off-the-air, you can always catch her listening to 5 Seconds of Summer on her city strides. She loves taste-testing various NYC pizzas around the city, and, above all else, living with her four best friends.