House on Wheels (ep)
I’m making less of an effort than ever before to ‘keep up’ – I checked out a long time ago in so many ways. But now and then an album or EP comes across my desk or makes it into my ears by fluke of scrolling, or reading up quickly on what I’ve missed or whatever. It never really matters what the connection is – just sometimes something connects, including things I figure I wouldn’t normally care about or would just more likely miss altogether.
One such recent example is House on Wheels – an EP by sad-sack melodicist Deb Never.
The songwriting and vocal delivery is married well to the production of Dylan Brady (100 gecs) and references 90s slacker alt/indie classics, early 00s emo and the bedsit electronica/hip-hop vibes of the 2010s.
Opener, Ugly, sets the tone instantly – “you don’t want me, I don’t want you/you don’t want me but I need you”.
I’m miles from caring about this sort of stuff, usually, but there’s something in the hook of this – the simplicity, the almost baleful tone of quiet intensity. This is the class loser speaking up. The person you have no beef with but you figure the rest of the cool crowd doesn’t care about them so you shouldn’t either, even though you’ve also never cared about the cool crowd. You get caught talking to them and you feel bad that you feel sorry for them. They don’t want pity, they want engagement.
Same (“always feel the same”) continues this tone but brings more backstory – this isn’t just a sad-o, this is disillusionment, a quiet yearning desperation is there hiding in plain sight within simple, pure lyrical lines.
Out of Time is the nearly incongruous riff-rocker that nicely breaks up the maudlin balladry.
Swimming is the track though – “Treat me like you give a fuck about me now” is its opening line. These are songs of inner sadness turned out for all to hear; the failed relationships of the imagination, the hit, hope and hype of wish-fulfillment turned sour.
Sometimes you hear an EP and want to have a full album just as soon as you can. Other times what you’re hearing is enough. I might never need (or want) anything else by Deb Never at all. This might just be enough.
It’s something special. And maybe I’ll move on after a few more listens. But for right now this is something very cool and cruel and nicely unusual within the sea of obvious and overly emo indie-pop.
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