Seatbelts are back with this mellow, warm-sounding ‘Black Spring,’ with lyrics claiming to be inspired by the writings of Henry Miller and an undercurrent of subtle dissonance running through it, providing it with an unlikely backbone. It’s a track you could almost dance to, albeit with a feeling of vague unease, like something is not exactly right but it’s hard to pinpoint what – a feeling achieved with an expert treatment of a sound that is always somewhat warped in some non-obvious way. With its 3.40 minutes, the track is just as long as it has to be; this type of suggestion-based mood works best when it is contained in a relatively short space, so that its effectiveness doesn’t lose strength through repetition.
Musically, it’s not a departure from Seatbelts’ previous output, but it does incorporate some fresh and intriguing suggestions. The intro has somewhat of a country twang to it – the opening bar immediately evoked in my mind something by The Handsome Family – which resurfaces here and there mixed with a hint of old-style ballroom dance; the result is a not-quite-ballad with nothing to serenade, feeling classic and experimental at the same time. The mixing of the vocals is effective and gives the middle section of the track a haunting quality which is perfect for the low light of late Autumn afternoons, but it is in the instrumental bridges that the song is at its most interesting. The way the music drags towards the end echoes the lilting quality of the vocals, tapering towards a suspended, almost tense ending.
The song is presented as a reflection on Brexit, and anyone who has lived through the political climate of this last couple of years will easily recognise the mood: “I’ve sat around for a week, now I’m beginning to think there’s no choice to be had here,” the lyrics bluntly suggest – something we may all have thought at some point recently watching the news. “Can we really take another year of this?” ‘Black Spring’ asks; in the often worn-out mood we are experienced, the question feels poignant and almost taunting. What we most certainly can take is another listen of this song, which seems to almost beg to be played on repeat. It has the ability to soothe and haunt at the same time, and that is strength in and of itself.
‘Black Spring’ will be available on all digital services from 31st October.