Review: Aidan Tulloch Releases ‘Somewhere Without Lights’

The mission for Tulloch’s EP was always simple: to make fans respond with a powerful dose of something. With the aim of creating music that can be a sanctuary or outlet for others, the songwriter shared: “As a fan, I’ve noticed the beautiful effect that music can have on people in terms of euphoria, comfort, intensity, and depth. I’m at a stage now where I want to create that for other people. Sometimes everything just seems banal, stagnant, stuck, and I want to create musical and poetic environments to feel released from that.” 

The emotive five-track EP emerges from the idea of feeling truly alive, whether that be alone in a dark night, or dancing until they turn the lights on. It’s a record fascinated throughout by the night, where, as Tulloch says, “sound and light get a chance to go off piste.” 

‘Milk and Orange Juice’ opens the EP, recalling the familiar catharsis of a heady night. Built around a distinctive drop, the track is warm in nature, showing an early inclination toward experimentation with vocals and production. Tulloch also showcases his own live violin, giving a nod to his classical training; blending old and new to craft a fresh and forward-thinking sound. 

Euphoric guitar riffs in ‘Goalposts’ create a space for Tulloch to look back to the endless summer days of his North Yorkshire adolescence. The track is the most traditionally indie in nature, with notes reminiscent of early British bands. The short “you really should move on” comes in with brilliantly sharp clarity; the clean production with this track really pushes it into a clear standout position. “He thinks we’re still sixteen’ is another line that stands out for its captivating simplicity; Tulloch achieves something beautifully, endearingly nostalgic with this track.

The collection is postmodern in that it’s referential — the artist opens a photo album and finds sketches of himself listening to indie rock, pop, electronica, folk, and classical. And, then, we listen to that all over again with his nostalgic tracks. He seems determined to make the collection as expansive as possible, with the slow ‘Santa Susanna’ being followed abruptly with ‘Song for Armageddon’; the collection’s most energetic explosion of driving beats and guitars.

Finally, title track ‘Somewhere Without Lights’ is the calm after the storm; the warm, still evening after the oppressive heat. The reverie showcases a knack for classical piano, as a lyricless canvas that uses unconventional time signatures, organic textures, and icy pianos to bring a clear and peaceful end to the record. 

While on the surface the EP can be seen as a scattered indulgence in infectious, frivolous pop, Tulloch’s razor sharp lyrics and high-quality musicianship ensure that Somewhere Without Lights is always brutally interwoven with depth. This substantial first record might just be the earliest sign of a refreshingly authentic, engaging, and talented artist.

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