Francis Vanhee

The Visual reassess the bliss of youth on “It’s Simple And It’s Plain”

Antwerp’s The Visual have released another poetic wonder of a song: “It’s Simple And It’s Plain” is a feather-light slice of alt-folk that finds vocalist and musician Anna Van Rij retracing  steps from childhood to the present. The wistful words filter the implicit wisdom in living carefree and with untainted imagination, without the corrosive wear and tear of adulthood complicating one’s sense of self.

“I start with ‘hey you’, so I’m actually talking to myself,” according to Van Rij. “It’s like looking at yourself in the mirror. I sing that I had lost sight of the child in myself. My “child” – in this case – is the most personal thing about “It’s Simple And It’s Plain” – being my gender dysphoria. I used to be very close to who I was as a child because society didn’t matter that much back then. So I was actually quite free in that regard. When I looked back at photos of myself between five to eight years old, I saw a phase where I was actually very close to myself.”

According to Van Rij, this realisation stung “a little bit”: “Because I’m a long way from that  state of mind right now. I had not yet accepted that part of myself at the time, because I didn’t allow myself to. But this is actually who I am. I sing “I’m sorry I forgot to hold you in my arms”; I haven’t comforted the child in myself for years. But I have to look at how I can become happy myself and not at how I have to adapt to the rest of the world.”

“It’s Simple And It’s Plain” definitely sheds some of the gravitas of earlier records by The Visual, opting for a more playful process. The song’s evolution plays very much into this idea of reassessing the bliss of youth with more miles on the soul. It started out written with just voice and guitar, then evolved as a more free-form, band-based arrangement. To complete its creative cycle, The Visual reused some of the song’s more infant stripped-back elements on top.

Listen to “It’s Simple And It’s Plain” below, and find it on streaming outlets.

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