Having impressed with their debut EP, “Descending”, Perth pop/rock outfit hvsk (pronounced husk) are back with their latest single “Surreal”, embarking on an atmospheric journey through the realm of indie-pop.
The track begins with dark, reverb-soaked power chords, providing a percussive anchor that runs throughout. We are then met with a rich drum sound made up of massive tom fills, shimmering high-hats, a thumping kick and a gated reverb snare; a lush combination that takes us back to the glamorous era of 80s pop. The verses take on a relaxed and steady pace, with the plodding bassline and Stewart Landsburgh’s delicate vocal delivery giving the track an early The 1975 vibe, reminiscent of tracks like “Robbers” and “Antichrist”.
Lyrically, “Surreal” seems to be filled with a sad acceptance, the realisation that moving forward as one may not be what’s best whilst desperately holding on to what’s left, perfectly expressed in the second verse where, ““Forget it, I’m a shadow in your light, and if you don’t want me ‘round then that’s alright.”, is followed by, “We’ll tear ourselves through one last time, you’ll come running we’ll make this right.”
The intensity skyrockets as we reach the chorus, with the vocals leaving the lower register and transforming into a vessel of pure emotion, sucking the listener into the ambivalence that the lyrics allude towards. The lead guitar brilliantly follows the vocals throughout the choruses, reinforcing the melody and adding some real shine to the vocal. The middle section gives the track some room to breathe, with the atmospheric breakdown leading up to a washed out pre-chorus where the question, “Can you feel what I feel?”, is repeatedly asked with greater intensity each time, almost begging for an answer.
As the track fades out, it’s hard to believe that it’s already been five minutes and you are only left wanting more, which says a lot about how well put together this song is. This is a stadium-ready anthem which undoubtedly lives up to its title, and one can only hope that this is a sign of things to come from hvsk.
You can find the Spotify link below, as well as a video documenting the making of “Surreal”.