Possibly an over-statement from Elbow’s Guy Garvey but it does show his enthusiasm for this London-based duo Graeme Martin and Liam Karima, who blend enchanting, ethereal concepts with poetic meter and hypnotic melodies to form exquisite, melancholic, celestial post-folk.
pet deaths are now set to join Elbow and Richard Hawley at this summer’s Heritage Live concert on Saturday 13th August at English Heritage’s Audley End, Saffron Walden.
Their most recent single “all the things you said you were” was released in February. It follows the band’s widely acclaimed debut album To the Top of the Hill and Roll… – released in 2019, described by Huw Stephens as “beautiful, understated and special” – noting it as one of his favourite albums of the year.
The pair (consisting of Graeme Martin and Liam Karima) offer this first taster of their second full length album. Celestial folk-inflected art-rock with flashes of affecting string arrangements and muted flute passages, “all the things you said you were” is an entrancing treatise on loss; “a message to the afterlife” – singer Liam Karima clarifies.
Speaking more on the new release, Karima said: “It’s a letter to a lost soul, to a loved one. Loss plays a big part in everyone’s life and when we go through this motion it evokes a dream like state mantra. The words were written on a reflective walk in Dalston along a small river, where ducks procreate and kids sell drugs. I thought about Virginia Woolf, I thought about my friend, I thought about Caroline Flack I thought about Sylvia Plath. It’s a celebration of all the things we had and lost. The letter I sent, still waiting for a reply.”
Produced with Ian Davenport (Slowdive, Gaz Coombes, Radiohead’s Philip Selway) in Oxfordshire at Courtyard Studios, pet deaths enlisted the help of violinist Art Sawbridge and saxophonist Jake Parsons to contribute key instrumental depth to the record, along with extra vocal appearances from Maya Nazir (age 3), Aurore Padenou, Wild Adoration, and The Crystal Palace Choir – acting almost like the ghosts of the song: “Yeah we miss you so / I’d guard you like the crown jewels / So text me what it’s like on the other side”.
Having both moved to London in 2017, pet deaths formed following a chance encounter in Ladbroke Grove. Feeling equally cellophane new in the capital’s concrete fast lane, they agreed to meet regularly. Their subsequent writing and drinking sessions became a Zen-like philosophy by which to navigate their new homes, spending gloomy November evenings on their rain-soaked Ballardian balcony, experimenting with loops, drones and poetry.
Previously supporting the likes of Elbow and Arab Strap, pet deaths are no stranger to the live stage – with more shows planned for 2022. The band’s unique brand of melancholia has seen high praise from publications including DIY Magazine, So Young Magazine, Clash Magazine and Drowned In Sound – as well as feverish radio support from BBC 6 Music and Radio 1 – as well as Radio X and NTS.
A band who revel in the notion of ‘the album’ – “all the things you said you were” is merely a snapshot into a wider concept. “When writing the new music, I was at this stage in my life where I was finding new love, new beginnings but also losing things in the fire,” singer Liam Karima said. “The main focus was the question – ‘is life an unhappy ending?’ Or do we become part of a bigger movement to more positive things?”
pet deaths‘ second full length album is due to be released later in 2022.
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