by Paddy Kinsella
Last winter, I became obsessed with Vs. Self – a song from Exeter trio, Soot Sprite. It acted as a lens to reflect on a particularly bad bout of depression I suffered in the winter of 2015, which I had never fully processed since clambering from its black hole. Enviously, Elise Cook sung, ‘Can’t work out how / they’ve got it figured out,’ instantly transporting me back to the car passenger seat from where I longingly looked out on every passer-by, projecting a happiness on to them I couldn’t feel for myself.
It’s Summer and I Don’t Feel Like Smiling explores a similar feeling of alienation. A stranger in paradise, the sun inspires happiness in everyone else around Cook, yet, for her, it fails to penetrate the gloom obstinately following her every step. Texturally more sophisticated than when we first heard them, drums crowd in on Cook – the exit routes disappearing by the second, before an ironically euphoric chorus unfurls from its dark corners, casting light on a golden path from which to flee her pursuers. A haunting baritone joins Cook as hymnally they harmonise, ‘Air con and blackout blinds / I never meant to be unkind,’ before the chorus returns for one final hurrah.
Since writing I Don’t Feel Like Smiling, that feeling of alienation has withered, and the doom-laden grey skies that then felt unique to Cook now cloud almost everyone’s skies. At least, on It’s Summer and I Don’t Feel Like Smiling, we now have a chorus to shout against the grey even as any answers remain cloaked in darkness.
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