If ever there was an EP that gives you free range to delve into dark, eccentric pockets of yourself, The Wealden’s debut Rushes is it. Self released ahead of an album in the autumn, this four track EP is a collaboration between vocalist/songwriter Tim Dickinson and guitarist Justin Quinn, who have been at the top of their music game for a while. Infused with originality by the bucketload, the duo are firing on all cylinders with this intelligently constructed, modern punk effort about making sense of chaos, suffering and depression.
“I lose my way, I come unstuck, go underground and not back up, and never mind the rabbit hole, never mind the black dog, this is no place for an animal to feel around in the dark” sings Dickinson on head spinning opener ‘Lifelines’ – a clusterbomb of a track which hits its stride immediately and grabs the most attention due to its accompanying bizarre video. The song is an exploration of darkness that will resonate with anyone who has suffered under the grip of another’s suffering and/or struggled with the hamster wheel of depression. What the lyrics appear to be getting at is that sometimes in life there are relationships that negatively affect you. It’s about struggling against a force bigger than yourself, a force Dickinson refers to as “the black dog”. Just when you think no light can escape this gloomy track, hope comes with the words: “You throw me a lifeline, your hand as full as mine.”
The accompanying video to ‘Lifelines’ is as strange and hypnotic as the vocal, featuring Dickinson submerging and reemerging from a tank of black crude oil. The track’s strength lies in its guitar mastery, Dickinson’s innovative approach to songwriting and the gravitational pull of his vocal, which sucks you in and cages you in a state of sublime creepiness. And, after a few listens, the track and video become oddly therapeutic.
‘My Sign’ is about falling into your calling. ‘Boyband’ has a pop feel and leaves me compelled to dance. Personal favourite ‘Blue and Gold’ is a bewitching ballad where Dickinson sings about not wanting to be alone in the house of the dead. The vocal on the latter sounds a little like the intro on Calexico’s ‘Victor Jaro’s Hands’. The guitar work is outstanding.
With this release, The Wealden have painlessly given birth to a partnership conceived in solid musical chemistry. With their fondness for experimenting and Dickinson’s natural songwriting flair, you can’t expect this newborn to toddle in the shadows for long.
Rushes is out now. The Wealden’s debut album will be released in the autumn. And you can catch The Wealden live at London’s The Venue this Thursday, 14 May.
Helen Marie Grant