'Rent Free on My Brain' EP by Euan Blackman

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'Rent Free on My Brain' EP by Euan Blackman

Review

Arriving on platforms today is ‘Rent Free On My Brain' the new EP from Euan Blackman: a follow-up to his debut ‘You Are the Rain' from last year.

As is often the case with artists using the format, three of the four tracks, "The Ballad of a Broken Machine", "Burn" and "The Last One" have already come out as singles in their own right (and we've done our best to describe each to you), so final song "Number One Hit Song" is the one least familiar to us all.

So what does the final piece of this particular jigsaw sound like then?

As the last link in the chain, you'd be surprised (as would I) if it did not share the same self-produced DIY ethic as the other three songs and it does (it was again mastered by Jim Spencer). It also fits into the artistic framework Euan devised for the whole which was "an amalgamation of narrative driven songwriting, with my love of bedroom pop. The EP aims to combine both the song-craft of folk, with production elements of modern indie."

So there is an over-arching approach which provides space for contrasting & complementing stories. "Number One Hit Song" concerns itself with the process of songwriting (well I'm sure you didn't need me to confirm your assumption from the title) and as such is one of the most overt meta-compositions I've ever had to review. Many musicians touch upon their craft in their writing to various degrees of obliquity, but here Euan breaks straight through that fourth wall. I'm not too sure who he is addressing, as there is sufficient flexibility in his words to encompass interpretations which scale from the uniquely intimate audience of one to universality: which is nice songwriting skill.

Musically, I think we hear his most developed song to date: that wispy, ethereal voice (presumably his trademark so often does he use it) floats in there still, although unusually, it is behind the other instruments in the mix most of the time. The latter are very much at the fullest end of his particular arrangement spectrum and belie the detachment of the vocals with the closest I've heard him come to a pop approach.

Whereas most of his work tended towards minimalism with quite a lot of additional instrumental detail being added for texture, this for the most part was done singly. Now multiple sounds blend together & create what for Euan is a Wall of Sound. Is he offering us a pointer as to the direction in which he is heading?

The EP title itself merits our consideration: the phrase doesn't have automatic associations of a negative nature, but I feel that I've heard of it in that way in other usages more than I have in positive ways. With this EP however, on reflection I'm convinced that Euan means it in the latter way: we are talking obsession I think, but in a benevolent fashion. His natural instinct is towards benevolence of thought as well as action ("alt folk for kind folk") so if he is acting as a landlord for someone, offering space in his mind is probably an act of altruism.

I'll leave the final word with the artist himself "the result is a collection of songs that feel my strongest and I'm super proud to finally share."

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