Helen Ballentine aka Skullcrusher already lured us in and destroyed us emotionally in a mere 12 minutes on her self-titled debut EP from earlier this year, so for her to add another eight minutes of brilliance to her catalogue is something we’re fully here for. Today she shares a new single with original song “Farm” as well as Radiohead’s ‘lost’ track “Lift”. On her new original, she says:
“‘Farm’ was created out of time I spent reflecting on my childhood and family. The process of developing it to its current version ended up being really tied to these reflections. Noah and I were visiting my family on the East Coast when the decision was made to release it in the coming months. We went up to a studio in Woodstock, a couple hours from where I grew up, and recorded the song in a day. I was able to gather a lot of really nostalgic sounds from the area: crickets, cicadas, the beach in CT and the creaking of old homes. I had the ability to really talk through the memories and emotions of the song and how they could be manifested sonically.”
All of Skullcrusher’s music seems to be born out of reflection, and induces the listener into doing the same. Although Ballentine’s words are specific to her experiences, she sings so beautifully and manages the atmospherics so evocatively that we feel drawn into her emotional tableau. “Farm” is no different, pulling us into the warm and silent night in a rural setting, physically far away from the person on her mind, but feeling spiritually close to them through her beseeching words and voice that reach out for their touch. As “Farm” reaches the climax of its subtle lift, the layers of piano guitar and voice coalesce around the singer, like warmth from a fire, as she comes to some kind of resolution, repeating with heart “I know now,” and we feel her settling with satisfaction.
On the b-side is her cover of Radiohead’s “Lift”, which only saw official release through 2017’s OK Computer reissue, having been a fan favourite obscurity for 20 years. These fans of the Brit band will tell you that “Lift” is the crossover hit they never released, and Skullcrusher’s version emphasises its pop prowess. It’s also the most overtly catchy and boisterous we’ve heard her go, implementing plucked banjos and mutli-tracked vocals to really make the melodies resound – and it’s glorious.