Clean Cut Kid's contrasting tones fit perfectly together to form a magnificent powerhouse of a debut EP.
Barely more than a year since signing to Polydor, Liverpudlian quartet Clean Cut Kid has released three amazing yet under-appreciated singles (‘Vitamin C,’ ‘Runaway,’ and ‘Pick Me Up’) and their debut EP follows along this trend, continuing their meteoric rise. Like the aforementioned singles, We Used To Be In Love follows the band’s apparent magic formula, bearing a powerhouse title track and a set of gems with a more hushed tone. It also slightly changes tack by elegantly matching sombre sounds to powerful lyrics that were hardly seen in their early releases.
Lead single ‘We Used To Be In Love‘ provides an artfully disjointed sound, relying on a powerful electric guitar riff and the group’s signature harmonies between the married couple Mike and Evelyn Halls. The feeling of heartbreak spans the entire song through these melodic harmonies as well as harsh pre-chorus breakdowns just before the chorus. ‘Paper Heart’ continues along this very sombre tone and again uses the Halls’ harmonies to enhance this effect significantly – the introductory verse provides a mystical sound, showing eerie similarities to the likes of The Neighbourhood. There’s a gradual build to the chorus which provides a powerful mixture of instruments so expertly put together that it’s both confusing and magically magnificent to listen to, providing an uplifting break from the solemn mood that has been constructed throughout the song.
This mood generation continues with ‘Hospital Lights’ introducing relatable but heart-wrenching lyrics (“I’m seventeen and all I feel is frozen with fear / ‘Cause I’m scared, I’m scared to sleep”) and a fantastically uplifting segment towards the end where the lyrics are masked by a fast-paced acoustic guitar à la Mumford & Sons, once again providing a powerfully encouraging break. However, with its introduction’s backing music bizarrely reminiscent of Game Boy Tetris, it’s easily the small thorn to the rose that is the We Used To Be In Love EP.
There is a surprise in closer ‘Loud Places,’ a cover of the single from Jamie xx’s In Colour, which provides something completely different to the formulaic tracks that make up the rest of the EP. The abrupt cuts on a low, flat bass guitar make for an aggressive start, and Evelyn’s vocals are partially left solitary instead of merely being used to complement the others. The subsequent chorus is so contrasted that it feels like a completely different song, with the transition sharp and their dance influences out in force.
We Used To Be In Love is out now via Polydor