The churn of suddenly emerging life-stages as carefree youth burns to ash is candidly retold by Henry Carlyle as he releases his second solo single, A Bigger Splash, a strangely euphoric diary entry inspired by turbulent times. Following up his 2021 debut single, The Ground, The Orielles guitarist and songwriter puts curb-kicking, Pennine greys together with the fluorescence of off-kilter America, not least in the David Hockney-referencing title.
Pupating out of sight of his very public creative endeavours as part of a private songbook, A Bigger Splash’s turning and torn pages run across five, expansive, yet simultaneously too-short minutes, with Carlyle playing both relatable narrator and lo-fi virtuoso. As restless and short-termist as the teenage mind itself, the song’s journey leaps across sharp peaks of jutting guitars and traverses deep pools of choral warmth, each patch sewn together with the fine threads of Carlyle’s overlapping, crystal-cut, fuzzed-up guitar breaks.
Halifax-originating and Manchester-dwelling Carlyle’s vocal delivery, from deadpan to cries from the echoes, reconfirms repeated comparisons to Damon Albarn with Jonathan Richman peering over one shoulder. The cold-loft-cool of Velvet Underground continues to reverberate alongside the loose-laced aloofness of Pavement.
Stating that the track was written as a bi-product of “going through stuff and not really having time to think properly”, Carlyle elaborates further by saying: “I was thinking how these formative years might affect people as they move on. Which is why the song’s initial musical idea stuck with me and interested me a lot as a theme; it fluctuates between two keys, the end improvisation being the ultimate mediation on that idea. It all feels as I felt, in turmoil.
“The lyrics are mostly about self-medicating, trying to instantly feel better for a transient moment and then reeling from that for a longer period of time than the intended relief. Which is why the chorus only comes once and is only two lines long. Nothing good lasts too long and goodness changes all the time.”
A Bigger Splash finds Carlyle in multi-instrumentalist mode once more, whilst welcoming Jack Bogacki on drums and Julia Bardo on backing vocals for a second time. Since the release of The Ground, Carlyle made his live debut at YES Manchester in support of Porij before moving swiftly on to play his first London show for a Valentine’s Night Special at Sebright Arms. More recent performances have been secret warehouse shows and an outing in support of English Teacher.