Far from the scorching heat that has plagued the past few weeks, the second EP – Burn For The Tide – from the London based singer-songwriter, August Child feels more delicate and autumnal. Taking inspiration from neo-folk artists including Sufjan Stevens, Angel Olson and Elliot Smith, Mike Pickering the man behind the moniker has a created a masterfully beautiful EP, which not only whispers but cries out in all the right places.
‘Ebb & Flow’ opens with slow melancholic guitar strums accompanied by airy vocal wails. As the track evolves, that melancholic feeling turns into full blown chills. A rambling chant hits in the chorus and then evolves into a dark, harrowing b-section with ruminations of introspection and agitation. Hints of Radiohead perpetuate throughout, with beautifully worded cynicism, a sparse yet grand arrangement, and Thom Yorke-esque falsetto howls.
Bringing a welcome release, ‘Graze the Gap’ is a nostalgic dream tucked away deep in the inner spheres of the subconscious. From the delightful plucked acoustic guitar, to the surprising and wonderfully crafted chorus section which takes the listener in a totally different direction. Sprinkled with keyboards and horns creating a beautiful and spacious counter melody which twists and turns smoothly underneath the vocals and really brings the track to life.
A jazzy detour follows as a speedy guitar twangs into life on the agile ‘Honeycomb Prison.’ Apart from being the only love song on the EP, this track leads us into unfamiliar territory thus far, both in lyrical content and in sound. Mostly made up of weaving yet distinct guitar parts, ‘Honeycomb Prison’ has the most immediate chorus, that stands out as both catchy and sees Pickering deliberating over a forbidden love. The end of the track sees a great climax followed quickly by an unexpected but totally appropriate closing sentiment about nostalgia, romance and youth.
Rounding out the EP, ‘Crimson Vision of Home’ is a spectacularly uplifting track that really sums up Burn For The Tide. A yearning for a simpler time, craving maternal comfort and struggling to get to grips with change; ‘Crimson Vision’ is a romanticised peek at youth and adolescence. An air of nostalgia mixed with innocence resonates throughout, it’s hard not to feel heavy-hearted as Pickering shouts, “Mother I’m failing carry me home,” in the chorus. The track finally finds solace as it builds towards a finale, voice cracking Pickering exclaims, “I don’t know why I complain, ’cause I’m just a kid,” which really puts the whole EP into perspective and throws away those nostalgic rose-tinted glasses. Revealing youth for what it was really like, frustrating and confusing.
Yes, I know we all look back fondly on our childhood and adolescence but we tend to forget the rough parts, the parts that ultimately defined us and shaped us into the boring adults we have become. Using these emotions to maximum effect, Pickering has made a wonderfully crafted and touching body of work, which is not only captivating and authentic, but also addresses the weight of living in a powerful yet vulnerable way. Full of surprises awaiting to be discovered with every passing listen.
August Child’s ‘Burn For The Tide’ EP is out now on Fierce Panda Records – available for purchase direct from Bandcamp.