EP: Lizzie Reid – Cubicle review

by Phil Scarisbrick

Displaying a stoic vulnerability that has always made songwriters endearing, Cubicle is a debut that is likely to stay with you long after the final note rings out

There is nothing more engaging in storytelling than for the listener to feel like they’re being let in. You can disguise your true feelings in double entendres and metaphors, but as long as you aren’t being wilfully misleading, an audience is always to buy into what you’re doing. For Glaswegian singer-songwriter, Lizzie Reid, this openness has just that effect. Each of Cubicle’s seven vignettes pull the curtain back on stories of love-fuelled highs, and heart-breaking lows – with the end result being a debut release that really gets under your skin.

Unmistakably Glaswegian, the colloquialisms of her vocal adds a more visceral feel to her stories.  Recorded in Reid’s home with producer, Oli Barton-Wood, when the UK was on the precipice of the first lockdown, the intimacy of the setting is felt throughout the record. Opener, Tribute, feels like it could have slipped off Adrianne Lenker’s abyskiss with its starkly beautiful, skeletal arrangement. The song seems to try and balance the regret felt by the end of a relationship – with the lack of regret as to her own behaviour. The dismay of the verse – ‘I will try not to laugh it off in solitude/ But I don’t understand quite why you left’ – is washed away by the resilience of the chorus as she sings, ‘I don’t regret a word that I said when I was in your bed’.

Seamless is a step up sonically with loose sounding drums steering a meditative melody. The insecurity of the lyrics makes this musical dynamic feel like a slight of hand – like a confessional soliloquy that we’re overhearing. The chorus ends with a refrain that recalls Radiohead’s No Surprises, and, given the similar lyrical themes, it feels like an interesting nod, whether intentional or not.

The EP’s real highlights are closing pair of Been Thinking About You and the title track. The former never seems to get into a flow, as our narrator tries to recompense the all-encompassing feeling of missing someone so much that you’ll do anything to return to them, but with the reality being that it won’t happen. A manic guitar solo to close the track feels like the culmination of the angst and desperation expressed before, as it is expelled into the ether. Cubicle is a title that is the perfect shorthand for the feelings expressed within. ‘I can’t escape this night/ I’m in the cubicle/ Through the window/ The sweet unbearable,’ sings Reid, feeling trapped in a tight space with only way out. This metaphor plays out over an incredible chorus melody that really is special. Finally, Reid concedes, ‘Maybe we could start this over, but I don’t even know you any more,’ now ready to let go of the past.

The EP is an encapsulation of a microcosm. A cathartic journey through a foundational period in Reid’s life that formed who she is – for better or worse –  thereafter. The maturity of narrative forming, as well as the skill of pairing words and melodies for maximum effect, is something truly special. It really is a debut release that will stay with you for a long time after the final note seeps away into the distance.

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