Zoe Ko Transports Us to New York City in “Fire Escape”


Photo: Alexs K. Brown

On-the-rise, indie pop songwriter Zoe Ko is back with another moody hit.

“Fire Escape” feels like being a college student in the big city—spontaneity dressed in a businessman’s oversized suit. It’s delivered with maturity while twirling us through tales of reckless, adrenaline-fueled infatuation. The lyrics land us in a rundown New York apartment, complete with cracks running through the ceiling and ambient city sounds trailing at the end of the track.

The song builds in layers, but Ko is keen to leave space in the crisp pop production. Following a forward electric guitar, cinematic, wispy synths glisten in the background, adding slight ethereal decorations to the arrangement. Going into the chorus, it breaks down, but not in the expected way. Ko almost pares the instruments down more, letting the guitars hit and then back off as her vocals begin to amp up.

She sings with equal intensity and sadness, screaming but grieving at the same time. The vocals have a touch of Olivia Rodrigo in the angst, but with a bouncy, alternative finish; I could see her being the perfect pop-adjacent opener for Holly Humberstone.

Ko paints this bittersweet notion in her lyrics as well, using the rundown city apartment as an extended metaphor for the deterioration of this relationship. “We joked if we ended up burning, we’d leave the stove on on purpose / so no one could know the things we felt,” she sings.

Bristling with lingering adoration and what-could-have-been longing, “Fire Escape” is a rare song that transports you somewhere else with the first chord. Ko takes our hand and leads us through city blocks as we watch this relationship end.

Watch the "Fire Escape" lyric video below:


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