HEADACHE. is, for the most part, a rather relaxing album. Its soundscapes are warm and welcoming, complemented by comfortable vocals which soothe rather than soar. At a period in time in which restlessness overpowers tranquility, it’s a fitting detour and escape point from what’s going on around us, and in turn, a record wholly absorbing in its understated skill.
“ai” opens proceedings, packed with echoing guitar riffs, plodding percussion and methodically paced vocals. “If you’re not here, I really want to die,” Damons year sings in the chorus, painstakingly visceral with each note as the instrumental backing remains mellow but resonant. It’s a thoughtful opener, and one which skillfully avoids anything overly melodramatic for its tempered climax.
“Your Knight” does inject some energy into the album, though, bouncing along freely with a staccato guitar melody, simplified drum patterns and leisurely, rather casually dispatched verses. The energy comes from the song’s compositional pace as opposed to the performance itself, ensuring that there aren’t too many cluttered elements which could detract from the generally easygoing nature of the LP.
“Gate of Eden” is most likely the most stereotypically “indie” offering heard here, moving at a languid pace before “Auburn,” which glides slowly across with its airy piano melody and sentimental soundscape, delivers a return to the emotion heard right at the beginning. Vocally impassioned, its dreamy, almost Disney-like composition in the bridge is sonically stunning, and caps off an all-round phenomenal offering.
Elsewhere, “Herb” provides a more lyrically glum, vocally huskier alternative to the anxiously romantic preceding cuts, whilst tracks like “Cherry” provide rock-tinged self-deprecation which comes across as endearingly self-aware, never annoyingly self-indulgent.
Towards the end of the album, the wispy “Scarlett” offers a more candid look at the artist’s own depression, bluntly and vehemently discussing his issues in a heartfelt but harrowing manner. It’s instrumentally reflective too, with the guitars dulcetly moving across the falsetto vocals in the chorus, and never invading the space Damons year claims to discuss such a taboo topic. It’s a highlight in an album with a healthy dose of them, and distributes plenty of food for thought.
By the time that “Morning Star,” an optimistic sounding cut which ruminates with a twinkling piano melody and a rising string section finishes, the audience is clambering for more. HEADACHE. is a brilliant effort, and a feather in the cap of a growing artist. If Damons year can continue this momentum with whatever comes next, then there’s no reason why his stock won’t grow alongside his artistry.