Photo: Julia Nala

CIEL explore an unsettling kind of loss on “Pretty Face”

Brighton alternative-pop band CIEL have released their first single of 2021, titled “Pretty Face”, which simultaneously retains their dreamy sound and enhances it.

Following their debut EP Movement released last year, “Pretty Face” is the second instalment in a trilogy of songs – with “All My Life” being the first – where the band have collaborated with different producers. Credit this time around goes to Jack Wolter of Penelope Isles and Austin Tufts from BRAIDS, who helped with production and mixing respectively.

Over an upbeat combination of smooth bass guitar, distorted electric guitar and twinkling xylophone, CIEL create a soundscape that is both pleasant and nostalgic. However, “Pretty Face” is a study in contrasts, as its sound is surprisingly peppy against its lyrical subject matter. Lead singer Michelle Hindriks has explained how the track’s inspiration stems from watching cult documentaries and in particular – a story “about this man that lost his wife to a cult, and now ten years later continuing life, knowing that she’s still somewhere out there – having to let go of her.”

CIEL successfully incorporate strong elements of pathos that only serves to make the pop production starker. Over catchy melodies, Hindriks invokes the imagery of a “Pretty face / But eyes like stones / I’m seeking you / Like a needle in the hay.” Ultimately, the song concludes on a note of reluctant healing with the Hindriks singing: “There are plasters on my life / How reality is different from my fantasy.” The lyrics perfectly encapsulate a person’s sadness in losing somebody – not from a physical death but a psychological one.

You can stream “Pretty Face” on streaming platforms or below.

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