Since Bon Iver’s For Emma Forever Ago crept onto the indie scene like the onset of permafrost, it seems many indie folk artists have strived to match the hushed lure of Justin Vernon’s signature falsetto, while exhibiting little to none of his melodic punch – perhaps confusing the virtuosity and brilliance of Vernon’s songwriting ability with the simple prettiness of his voice. It’s an easy mistake to make.
This is not the case with ‘Out To Sea’, the new single by Bristol-based Maybug, AKA Joseph Dunn. Similar to the hypnotic effect of hearing waves break endlessly on a shoreline or the crack and pop of glowing firewood on a winter’s evening, ‘Out To Sea’ induces a sort of quiet, almost primal, introspection in the listener. The song is a daydream in the best possible way.
A sliding guitar melody and wafting synth drone open the track and are joined cautiously by Dunn’s falsetto declaration, ‘I remember’. There is a meticulous simplicity in how the vocals and guitar line echo each other – splitting apart and reforming, punctuated by a spare use of harmony, and, as ‘Out To Sea’ wears on, Dunn uses these elements to drag you deeper into his recollection. The result is magnetic.
Like most daydreams, the end of this track leaves you wondering where the last four minutes went. Each section is permanently suspended and unresolved, with no discernible recurrent coda. The song is a continual unfolding of breakaway fragments. The lack of a discernible verse-chorus structure helps to elevate ‘Out To Sea’ above an ocean of shimmery ‘folk-setto’ counterparts – all aiming to out-pretty one another – and suggests that Maybug is perhaps onto something new. Only time will tell with the release of his debut EP Pollen Odyssey, out September 18th.
For now, we have the repeat button.