Posts Tagged ‘Anxiety’

18th November 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Following on from big-hitting introductions in the form of single releases ‘A Working Class Lad’, Manchester’s The Battery Farm hit us with their debut album, Flies.

They describe it a ‘an album about end times fear and societal breakdown. It is an album that tries to come to terms with the violent world we find ourselves in, and tries to reconcile with an uncertain future in world that we have decimated. It’s about the endless, screaming noise of 21st Century living and the squalid claustrophobia that entails. Driven by fury, black humour, compassion and a desire for hope.’

These are all things I’m on board with: it’s essentially a list of the top things that gnaw away at my psyche and my soul on a daily basis. Because to live in the world right now is to live and breathe all shades of anxiety.

Some people – mostly right-wing wankers and idiots on social medial, especially Twitter – like to jeer and poke fun at those who intimate any kind of panic over the state of things, laughing their arses off at those who perpetuated ‘project fear’ and the so-called ‘remoaners’ and scoffing at the idea that this year’s heatwave is anything to do with climate change citing the summer of ’76. But these are the same tossers who whine about health and safety and speed limits as being symptomatic of a ‘nanny state’, and also the same tossers whose kids will die after swallowing batteries or burn the house down lighting fireworks indoors.

What I’m saying is that anyone who isn’t scared is either beyond oblivious or in denial. The world is literally on fire and drowning at the same time. Fittingly, Flies is an album of contrasts, both in terms of mood and style. There are fiery, guitar-driven flamers and more introspective compositions which are altogether more subdued and post-punk in their execution.

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The title track is but a brief introduction, a rushed, desperate spoken work piece set against – at first – a tense bass and a growing tide of swelling drums and guitars that in just over a minute ruptures into a full-on flood of rage. Distilling years of anguish into a minute and a half, it’s got hints of Benefits about it, and then we’re into the snaking groove of ‘A Working Class Lad’, that sees The 80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster collide with The Anti-Nowhere League in a gritty, gutsy punk blast with a surfy undercurrent.

It’s the combination of gritty synth bass and live bass guitar that drives the sound of the album. The former snarls, while that latter thuds, and in combination they pack some serious low-end punch in the way that Girls Against Boys and Cop Shoot Cop did. The synth gyrations also lend the sound a tense, robotic edge that gives it both a certain danceable bounce while at the same time heightening the anxiety of the contemporary, that sense of the dystopian futures so popular in science fiction are in fact our current lived reality.

‘In the Belly of the Beast’ is a stuttering blast of warped funk. In contrast, ‘Everything Will Be Ok’ is altogether more minimal, with hushed spoken word verses reminiscent of early Pulp, and tentative, haunting choruses which exude a subtle gothic vibe. And it all builds slowly, threatening a climax which never arrives. But then ‘Poet Boy’ drives at a hundred miles an hour and burns hard and fast to its finale in three and a half minutes.

‘DisdainGain’ comes on like Motorhead at their grittiest and most rampant, and again shows just how broad The Battery Farm’s palette is. By their own admission, they draw on elements of ‘Punk, Hardcore, Post Punk, Krautrock, Glam and Funk’, and one of the key strengths of Flies is its diversity – although its range does not make for a lack of coherence or suggest a band who haven’t found their identity, by any means. What’s more, the diversity is matched by its energy, its passion, and its sheer quality. Full of twists and turns and inspired moments of insight, Flies is a bona fide, ball-busting killer album. Fact.

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Delivering a resolute punch with an acerbic sting in its tale, new single ‘Stamp You Out’ sees the Manchester band return to the spotlight with commanding form and typically uncompromising style.

From its blistering post/punk guitar lines to its punishing percussives, ‘Stamp You Out’ creates an impending atmosphere of anxiety throughout. With Adam Houghton’s trademark baritone vocal booming with all the force of an omnipotent autocrat at the lectern of a police state; it makes for a powerful statement of intent that instantly envelops listeners back into the shadow-strewn world of IST IST.
Speaking about ‘Stamp You Out’, Houghton says:

“[Stamp You Out] tips its hat to the previous IST IST where the modus operandi was to try and make an impact in the most forceful way; pounding drums and bass and repetitive lyrics. I remember watching a news report where a politician, whose name I forget, just kept saying: ‘we need to stamp this out’. I was thinking ‘we need to stamp you out’, so I wrote an aggressive fight song and a call to arms about it.”

The single is accompanied by an official video that sees the band deliver a voltaic performance of the track against a flurry of incandescent lights. Watch it here:

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Of the video Keating adds: “We felt like the track is a straightforward rock song which required a straightforward video and we didn’t want to over-embellish the visual aspect. For existing IST IST fans, it re-affirms what we’re all about, and for anyone new it tells you everything you need to know.”

The new single is also accompanied by the announcement of IST IST’s third studio album Protagonists, out 31 March 2022 via Kind Violence Records. After securing their status as one of Manchester’s most exciting acts with their 2020 debut Architecture, and then consolidating the title with its 2021 follow-up The Art of Lying; new album Protagonists arrives as something of a new dawn for the four-piece. As Andy Keating says:

“This was our first straightforward album, which sounds strange given it’s the third one. Our first album was a little bit of a back catalogue, and the rest was written in the same vein to have a coherent record. The second album was a stab in the dark and written and recorded during lockdown restrictions, but it broke us into the top 100. ‘Protagonists’ feels like the first album where there’s no pressure.”

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An album all about new beginnings, with a nod to the trials and tribulations of love, tricky family relationships and the feeling of being trapped by the past, ‘Protagonists’ arrives as an attestation to a band sure of their own identity. With the time and space to experiment in order to solidify their own sound, Keating adds:

“We originally started just exploring sounds and textures which appealed to us, and it evolved into fully-fledged songwriting. There are some elements which hark back to our ballsy days of a heavy sound, but we feel like this is a band expressing themselves how they want to.”

Owing its title to songwriter Adam Houghton’s magpie-like method of writing, Protagonists finds the frontman taking prominent characters that have caught his imagination, whether fictional or non-fictional, and transplanting them into dystopian worlds with new and uncertain outcomes. As Hougton explains:
“My process has always been taking inspiration from everything around me including but not limited to TV, Books, Movies, Newspaper, Articles on Wikipedia, Crime Documentaries etc. I then use these sources to craft fictitious stories around an imagined persona. The title ‘Protagonists” seemed to work with this method.”

Blurring the lines between fact and fiction and traversing a broad spectrum of genres, tracks like “Nothing More Nothing Less” — a  “simple love song written from a woman’s perspective” — take on a gauzy and ethereal pop-tinted quality, while slightly more menacing moments like “Fool’s Paradise” and “Trapdoors” find closer alignment with the band’s brooding, brazen rock roots.

From future favourites like “Something Has To Give”, a jittering guitar track about “a stick or twist situation”, to fully fitted-out classics like the anthemic “Emily” (a live fixture from the band’s earliest days, which has finally found its place on this record), ‘Protagonists’ will provide plenty to pore over for fans new and old.

Recorded and mixed by Michael Whalley and IST IST at Milkshed Studios, the album was mastered by the legendary  Greg Calbi and Steve Fallone at Sterling Sound (The National, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol).
A compulsive, character-driven record from a band hitting their creative zenith, IST IST will release ‘Protagonists’ in Spring of 2023.

To mark the release, IST IST will be playing a special hometown launch show for the new record at the Manchester Ritz in March next year – details below. There will also be a small preview tour before the end of 2022, with dates in London, Birmingham and Hebden Bridge. Standby for further UK live dates soon.

IST IST UK LIVE SHOWS

NOVEMBER 2022

3/11 O2 Academy 2, Islington,
4/11 The Rainbow, Birmingham,
25/11 Trades Club, Hebden Bridge (Sold out)

MARCH 2023

31 – Manchester Ritz

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KEN mode has released harrowing new single, ‘Unresponsive,’ from its upcoming eighth album, NULL, out on 23rd September.

A relentless dirge, ‘Unresponsive’ features frontman Jesse Matthewson unleashing a tormented soliloquy that hits like Henry Rollins at his most confessional. "Forgotten, erased, unresponsive, replaced, abandoned," he chants.

Matthewson recalls the origins of the song: "At this phase of the pandemic I had begun having dreams about my partner leaving me and my family dying, probably five nights a week, for several months. I sat there, writing the lyrics to this one while listening to a rolling storm come in, that never seemed to actually reach a crescendo. It all felt too apt for the way everything had been feeling for the last year at that point."

The track’s sparse, machine-like pulse, peppered by hints of cello and clanking percussion, points to early industrial and No Wave influences, beyond the metallic hardcore and noise-rock for which KEN mode is known. Matthewson credits the COVID-19 pandemic with pushing the band to take new chances and explore new ground: "We felt like there was really no reason to do anything at all unless we were trying to push this into something new," he states. Recorded and mixed by Andrew Schneider (Cave In, Unsane), NULL is the first KEN mode release to feature collaborator Kathryn Kerr (saxophone, synth, piano, percussion, backing vocals) as a full-fledged member of the band.

Check the video here:

Founded by Matthewson and his brother Shane, KEN mode has come to define intensity and dedication, via tours with Russian Circles, Torche, and Full of Hell, and releases produced by the likes of Steve Albini, Kurt Ballou, and Matt Bayles. Upcoming new album NULL sees this warhorse of a band emerge from the darkest of times with new energy, evolved and ready to carry on into its next chapter.

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The band embarks on a US tour in October, with support from Frail Body (Deathwish Inc).

Oct 20 – St Paul, MN @ Turf Club

Oct 21 – Davenport, IA @ Raccoon Motel

Oct 22 – Chicago, IL @ Beat Kitchen

Oct 23 – Indianapolis, IN @ Black Circle Brewing Co.

Oct 24 – Columbus, OH @ Big Room Bar

Oct 25 – Nashville, TN @ DRKMTTR

Oct 26 – Little Rock, AR @ Vino’s

Oct 27 – Oklahoma City, OK @ 89th Street

Oct 28 – Austin, TX @ The Lost Well

Oct 29 – Houston, TX @ Black Magic

Oct 30 – Denton, TX @ No Coast Fest

Oct 31 – New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa

Nov 2 – Atlanta, GA @ The Earl

Nov 3 – Charlotte, NC @ Snug Harbor

Nov 4 – Philadelphia, PA @ Silk City

Nov 5 – Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus

Nov 6 – Cambridge, MA @ Middle East

Nov 7 – Montreal, QC @ Turbo Haus

Nov 8 – Toronto, ON @ The Baby G

Nov 9 – Detroit, MI @ Sanctuary

Nov 10 – Milwaukee, WI @ Cactus Club

Nov 12 – Fargo, ND @ The Aquarium

6th May 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

This latest four-tracker from Panic Lift continues the trajectory of themed EPs that it’s been pursuing for a while now.

With two new cuts and a remix of each, it’s reminiscent of the old-school 7” and 12” formats, and ‘Every Broken Piece’ accompanied by ‘Bitter Cold’ would make for a perfect 7”, with the additional tracks – remixes respectively from Mechanical Vein and Tragic Impulse – fleshing out a 12” and CD… Such reminiscences are relevant because Panic Lift’s harsh industrial dance sound is rooted in the 90s when multi-format releases were de rigueur. Much as they were clearly a way of milking fans and boosting chart positions, I do kind of miss those days, since the majority of releases don’t even come in a physical format.

For Stitched, James Francis, aka Panic Lift, revisits the kind of sound that defined his debut, Witness To Our Collapse, and talking of the physical, there’s a strong physicality to both ‘Every Broken Piece’ and ‘Bitter Cold’ – not just their thumping hard as nails grooves and pounding beats, but the overall density of the sound hits with a physical impact, while the forced, rasping vocals equally hit hard, the sound of anguish and rage and a host of mixed and conflicting emotions aflame.

‘Every Broken Piece’ was a feature of Panic Lift’s online performances during lockdown, and it’s from this place of inner turmoil that these songs emerge, with the accompanying notes pointing out that they ‘continue with the familiar themes of stress, coping, and concerns of self-image’, and the rippling synth lines, juxtaposed against snarling, abrasive vocals, are the perfect expression of internal conflict. There’s a lot going on here in the arrangements, with churning metal guitar grazing against cinematic synths, and the slower chorus on ‘Bitter Cold’ brings impact by contrast.

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5th May 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

The pandemic may be over – or not, depending on your viewpoint or your government – but there’s no question that the pandemic affected us all in some way, shape, or form, and that as much as people are getting on with their so-called ‘normal’ lives, we’re not all fully over it. Some of us may never be.

‘The Day the Drum Stopped’ was penned during the height – or depths, depending on your perspective – of the UK pandemic lockdown, and captures the instantaneous psychological spasm of the moment everything halts abruptly. ‘The Day the Drum Stopped’ is perhaps another way of phrasing ‘the great pause’, and it was a strange time to say the least.

For many – not least of all musicians, those in hospitality and retail – everything stopped. For others, who continued to work from home, while also trying to manage home-schooling, the pause was less pronounced, marked more by the absence of people and traffic in the street when venturing out for the prescribed daily exercise or trip to the local supermarket in the hope of scoring both loo roll and pasta. But no question, it was strange, a plunge into the unknown, the unpredictable, and this was a cause of major anxiety for so, so many.

Kristina Stazaker has articulated this succinctly and in a most accessible fashion on her new single, propelled by some sturdy percussion and ‘builds up to a powerful ending where the drums restart and the electricity of life flicks into action again’. It starts with a solid march, before loping away like a galloping horse, and there’s optimism there, as Stazaker remains positive that ‘the drums will come back again’, and it’s a rush and then… it stops, and you’re left, vaguely nonplussed, wishing there was more. Which seems like life, really. Cracking single, though.

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 Artwork - Kristina Stazaker

Cool Thing Records – 1st April 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

BAIT exists as a side-project for Asylums’ Michael Webster and Luke Branch, and they couldn’t be much different, with Webster using this vehicle as an outlet by which to channel all his angst and anger through sharp-eyed and sharp-tongued social observation and critique.

This debut long-player has been a long time in coming. Their eponymous mini-album landed back in March 2017, and apart from the standalone single release of ‘DLP’ in the spring of 2019, they’ve seemingly been dormant, at least in the public domain. But despite the obstacles of geography during lockdown, they’ve been busy, and the last couple of years have provided an abundance of grist to their mill.

The band describe it as ‘a digital post-punk lockdown docu-record which watches the clock, gets the jitters & lashes out just like the rest of us. It’s an internal monologue that accounts the anxiety, the struggles, the pressures experienced living by the sea during an international pandemic’.

Most struggled in one way or another during the pandemic, some unspeakably, and for a great many, the lasting effects of the trauma of lockdown and isolation are every bit as bad as those of the virus itself. Many lost loved ones, but were unable to gain closure or grieve with friends and relatives due to restrictions – while, it turns out, the government of ‘Great’ Britain partied on. It was often hard to know what to make of anything: conspiracy theories abounded, but over time, some of those theories began to look rather less far-fetched, and under such close surveillance, people could be forgiven for getting paranoid, for being angry.

Sea Change is one angry record. But to describe it as such is to overlook the emotional range it articulates: it’s an album that gives voice to anxiety, panic, fear, trauma. Perhaps it’s the ‘internal monologue’ aspect of its evolution is why it really speaks. As is so often the case, in the personal lies the universal, and it conveys the rapid changes in mood and general state of confusion, questioning, and self-doubt that defined the lockdown experience for so many of us. And just because we’ve left lockdown doesn’t mean that we’ve left lockdown behind, psychologically, meaning that Sea Change’s resonance goes far beyond that defined period in time which spawned it (‘inspired probably isn’t the word).

The mood is tense and dark throughout, and the production has that mid- to late-80s Wax Trax! Industrial feel to it: the guitars are gritty, but everything is condensed into a dense lump of sound that batters rather than saws at the senses. ‘No Sleep for Light Sleepers’ is more minimal, haunting, but also ominous, the processed spoken word like the mutter in your ear that just won’t let you settle.

It’s not entirely without humour, either: if the frenzied, pounding ‘DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA’ encapsulates the way in which a heightened state of anxiety is a shortcut to a loss of perspective, whereby the smallest, most trivial things give cause to great panic (things you know are irrational, like, say, getting twitchy when your phone battery drops below 49%), it also highlights just how self-obsessed and microfocussed we are as a society (that that incident at the Oscars totally engulfed the internet against a backdrop of war, a cost of living crisis, and rising Covid cases and hospitalisation is perhaps the definitive moment in our culture of self-absorption, and perhaps, in the wake of lockdown panic, the need to have something to fret and opine over obsessively just to fill the gap). It’s not all completely oppressive, either: ‘Electric Murder’ is a straight-up dark electropop tune that would comfortably sit in Depeche Mode’s catalogue.

‘The Weight of the Water’ finds them punching through a steely grey mesh of guitars, and it’s dense and tense; the jitters amp up tangibly on ‘Somewhere to Be’. ‘I’ve got somewhere to be… I’ve got somewhere to be’ Webster repeats as if a mantra, like the White Rabbit trapped in a postmodern world in which all holes have been concreted over and gentrified in the name of ‘progress’. ‘Sugarlumps’ leaps from a queasy, claustrophobic wheeze to a roaring metal blast reminiscent of Ministry’s Filth Pig, and the album ends with a ferocious finale with ‘We Will Learn to Bark’, the sound of pure catharsis.

It’s pretty much an instant grab, but Sea Change is definitely an album that offers up more over repeat plays.

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Sea Change

14th February 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a slice of blues-hued alt-rock that deals with paranoia and a sense of disconnection from other people, right? Blackpool’s Rendered land their second single on Valentine’s day, and it’s a proper punch in the kisser

It begins with a slow-build, a big, spacious guitars chime that’s bordering on shoegaze before exploiting a classic quiet / loud verse / chorus, and when the guitars kick in for the chorus, boy do they kick in strong. It’s the perfect vehicle for the lyrics which wrestle with internal contradictions and the troubles of mental health; the fear and loathing, flipping between the urge to lash out and to simply hide.

‘Paranoia’s what they tell me I got /Well it’s real to me and it won’t stop now / (Must be the enemy!)’ guitarist/vocalist Dale Ball hollers in a blend of pain and panic, articulating the anguish of decoding situations; after all, just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not after you, and just because you feel you can’t trust anyone, doesn’t mean you’re delusional or overly fearful, and it’s a fact, not hype, that you can’t be too careful… but then, to what extent can fear rule your life before it’s no life at all? It’s a fine line, and right now, so many people are so on edge about everything. The language of fear used to ensure compliance during lockdown gave many the jitters, and shaking that fear isn’t proving so easy. Then you turn on the news, there are stabbings and murders of random strangers all over, the government has been proven to have bene constantly lying the whole time, and now continue to lie about the fact they’ve been lying in the face of concrete evidence, and who can you believe or trust when you can’t even trust yourself or your own instincts?

Well, you can trust Rendered to deliver solid tunes with real resonance, if nothing else, and ‘Must Be The Enemy!’ is the proof.

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Cool Thing – 18th February 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Hot on the heels of their explosive return with ‘Drama Drama Drama Drama’, BAIT continue the assault with the delivery of ‘My Tribe’, off their eagerly-anticipated long-player, Sea Change.

Pitched as ‘the voice of pandemic anxiety’, Michael Webster explains that “’My Tribe’ was written at the very beginning of the pandemic when none of us knew what the fuck was going on. It got me thinking about survival and protecting my family from the unknown. There’s reference to primal activities in contrast to the mundane activities taken up to pass time during isolation.”

This encapsulates the contradictions of the early days of the pandemic: the confusion, the fear, the panic, the sheer bewilderment and sense of ‘what the fuck?’ as the guidance changed daily and we were told to work from home and batten down the hatches: the number of times we heard and read the word ‘unprecedented’ was unprecedented’ – far more so than the pandemic itself. No-one knew how to react, because no-one really knew what they were even reacting to, really.

Clocking in at almost four minutes, it’s one of BAIT’s longer efforts, and it’s driven – as has rapidly become established as their style – but a thick, snarling, repetitive riff in the vein of Killing Joke, and the comparisons don’t end there, given their sociopolitical leanings. In short, it continues the trajectory of their eponymous mini-album debut, and cements everything harder, denser than before, and then veers off into hard technoindustrial that’s more the domain of KMFDM and the like for the final minute.

Tackling isolation and the internal conflicts so many of us suffered, it’s angry, but in no specific direction – because who do you direct that anger at? Some of it goes inwardly, of course, wrestling with feelings of insecurity and inadequacy, while some of it goes outwards and into the air because fuck shit, life just isn’t fair. Why here? Why now? Just why? That sense of helplessness and frustration pervades every moment of anger and anguish, and it’s almost as if BAIT were a band ready-made for the pandemic.

But while it may feel like ‘Merry Easter, Covid’s Over’ may be a tune for the coming months, it’s readily apparent that the psychological repercussions of the last two years will be long-lasting for many. The social divisions that became raw gaping wounds through Brexit have only become more pronounced, as people have become more entrenched and seemingly harbour more violent feelings towards others, and on-line aggressions have begun to manifest in an upsurge in the ugliest behaviours since people have been allowed to get back out there. Something is awry, and the world is dark and more fucked-up than ever. This, seemingly, was the plan all along: divide and conquer. This is not some conspiracy theory, it’s not about some ‘plandemic’; it’s an opportunistic power-grab by governments following a neat-global shift to the right. They want people to be scared, and, as it happens, people have reason to be scared – jut not necessarily the reason it seems on the face of it.

‘Keep them occupied / lock them up inside’ is a neat summary of how things have been managed. They slide in the line ‘Under his eye’, and while they may have been bingeing on Netflix, the totalitarian regime of The Handmaid’s Tale seems a lot closer to home now: we are living in the midst of almost every dystopia ever penned made real.

BAIT have got the soundtrack down, they’re both the reassurance that you’re not alone in feeling what you feel, as well as the articulation of the painful truth. And they’re kicking ass all the way.

 

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30th April 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Ten months on from last year’s ‘Summer ‘ EP, headed by lead track Recovery, Sleep Kicks return with ‘My Own Demon’, and it’s a solid second single to say the least, putting meat on the bones of the live acoustic version that featured on the EP.

The comparisons I drew to A-Ha and Editors in reference to its predecessor are again applicable here, as the Norwegian foursome spin a hypnotic atmosphere through the medium of strolling bass and chiming, reverby guitar to carve a song that’s a balance of taut 80s pop and brooding new wave, and anthemic is the only word to describe its epic finish. With a wash of guitars and a powerful, uplifting ‘wo-ah-hoh’, you could easily picture this being played in front of a packed arena with several thousand hands waving aloft in time.

Yet, at the same time, the delivery of this big, soaring chorus, is quite a contrast to the lyrical content, which are so striking in their intimacy:

Always feels like someone’s coming after me

Never seem to find a cure for this anxiety

Every day it stays the same, I fear tomorrow’s call

Would be better if it never came at all

We all have our demons and our anxieties, but tend not to talk about them, despite the fact we probably ought: free and open discussion is the only way we will change attitudes to these things, and normalise the topic of mental health, and how it feels to wake up wishing you hadn’t. But we’ve all – or nearly all – been there at some point. It takes real strength to not only commit such lines to paper, but also actually sing them out loud, but it’s that investment of emotion that resonates, and – as I often say – in the personal lies the universal. And this, this reaches out and touches the soul in a special way.

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Crocodile Laboratories – 4th October 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

It seems almost beyond banal to remark that we live in troubled, troubling, challenging, and anxietised times. Since the turn of the millennium, and certainly for the last decade or so now, it feels as if we’ve been hurtling inexorably toward the end of days. Not one aspect of our existence is sustainable. We’ve known it for some fifty years, but here we are, staring into the swirling void the black hole that is our absence of future, and it’s nothing short of utterly fucking terrifying. It’s small wonder everyone’s cracking, that mental health issues are beyond rife to the point that it feels like half the population is struggling with some form of stress, anxiety, depression or related disorder. Are we getting better at speaking up, diagnosing, and treating these things – or could it simply be that we haven’t evolved at the pace of technology and society, and we’re just not built to cope with contemporary existence?

There was no way that when Amy Studt, after many, many years in the wilderness, and having followed a long, hard, road through recovery and stuttering false starts, could have envisaged the world she would finally deliver her comeback album to. So on the one hand, the recent events which saw the president of the United States of America first attempt to dismantle a 16-year-old-girl whose mission drive positive action against climate change, only for her to utterly demolish him by turning his words back on him, have no bearing on Amy’s album, the optimistically-titled Happiest Girl in the Universe. But on the other, the ‘happy young girl looking forward to a bright future’ Twitter duel is perhaps as relevant as it gets. Because in the personal lies the universal.

And Amy’s album is an intensely personal document of breakdown and recovery, and the title reflects the glowing hope of light at the end of the tunnel, of being able to find and cling to those moments of happiness, however fleeting, and accept that for all the darkness, there is light, and that light is what matters.

The singles, released at regular intervals over the last few months to give a slow-build engagement with the album have done more than pique the interest, but have built a steady-evolving picture of her creative rebuilding, and an insight into the long and difficult process that has seen her use creativity as a form of therapy.

From the haunting ‘I was Jesus in Your Veins’, which opens the album to the delicate piano-led introspection of the title track which draws the curtain with an air of soft calm , of homely comfort and a certain relaxedness that conjures images of Sunday morning coffee curled up in a chair taking it easy with a book or whatever.

But Amy sings of Diazepam, of depression, but also of empowerment: ‘Violently With Love’ is, on the face of it, a simple piano tune with vocals, but it’s a forceful songs that goes beyond ‘power ballad’ to an emotive tsunami. ‘I paid my dues. I played it your way. Now this s my way’, she sings on ‘Let the Music Play’. The video features footage of her from her childhood and beyond and evokes a deep nostalgia that’s resonant and affecting, and reminds us of the ageing process that affects us all. These are moments, locked in time, but they’re the moments of a one-time child star who’s different now. Older, wiser, perhaps, but also a traumatised adult who’s lived. Yes: she’s been there. She’s been done over by the industry. She’s still here. Survival is revenge.

‘The Water’ marks a stylistic departure, with a shift toward grand, sweeping cinemascopic sounds over a brooding piano. Studt’s voice is bathed in echo as she soars skywards once more, and in place of the quiet, intimate tone of the previous tracks, she spins skywards into the territory more common to Chelsea Wolfe and Zola Jesus. Stretching out to the five-and-a-half minute mark, it’s vast and immersive.

She’s no longer just a little girl: Amy’s a full-fledged artist ad while her years in the dark represent troubling times and reflect more on society than the artist, they’re past. Happiest Girl in the Universe is not an easy album, lyrically. Its lyrics are painfully introspective, raw, open, honest. But musically, it’s simply magnificent, and for all the pam and anguish there isn’t a song on here that isn’t lilting, melodic, and plain lovely. Happiest Girl in the Universe contain ten songs, and every last one is perfectly crafted, poignant, and touching. Amy is definitely winning: here’s looking to a brighter future.