8485 puts her best foot forward on “plague town”. These songs paint a wildly vivid image of suburban drama and spiritual examination.
“plague town”, the new EP from pop evolver 8485 and executive producer blackwinterwells, is a display of excellence through and through. 8485 tears through wonderfully written songs with a mellow blade, production is busy and refined, and the five tracks offer a sense of completion that many short projects simply lack. In treading the line between synthetic and organic, 8485 manages to separate herself from the expectations of realism whilst keeping emotion in suspense, resulting in a focused project that reaches rare heights.
The crowning achievement of “plague town” is “pure”, two and a half minutes of perfect minimalism. wells teams up with dgen on the beat, a drumless array of enveloped synth bubbles and plucks that greet a series of faux-strings and echoes on the chorus. Lyrics elevate further; “Burning out in the sun alone, fix my body, fix my soul / Pour the fever from my pores” is an inventive look at the well-known concept of inner demons. Betrayal is hinted at through the barely-held-together delivery of the closing line; “There was a time once that I believed in you”. The actual performance of these words is multi-tracked, offering bittersweet harmony as lines like “And I don’t know what’s happening, and I don’t know what happened to me” creep upwards.
“hangar” and “seer” veer in a similar direction to “pure”, though both up the energy in different ways. The first is an 80s inspired powerhouse with a pristine bassline, roaring in the background as 8485 tells of a story of loss and gain; “This place is suffocating, I’ll still be here in five years, like I promised I wouldn’t”. “seer” evokes euphoria – it has the highest mood of any track on offer, reflected in 8485’s high register and audible elation. Despite this happiness the song still centres on challenge; the production loops and loops over “hypothetical” ideas and longing to “substantiate” the future. The conflicts present in “plague town” are additive, opposing ideas enriching and supporting each other.
The remaining two tracks take more of a rock inspired approach; “purgatory” has an ambient smog around it, lost sounds circling a simple trap pattern. 8485 sounds positively lost, clawing back into the mix with detached inflections. She holds notes like candles, casting a little light. oakscreen’s vocal contributions are above serviceable, offering another set of blind eyes; “Choking on the weather” seems an apt description for such an overcast space. Closing track “southview” is comparatively light, building into a guitar driven conclusion. After ten minutes of constant reflection, the hook “I haven’t seen anybody I know in a long time” feels all the more alienated. In this uncomplicated honesty it’s as if the tangled feelings expressed just moments ago have unravelled, and in the moment of catharsis the way to something better is finally clear.
This project sets the standard for EP execution in the underground’s current state. 8485 has graduated beyond newcomer status, beyond an associate of others, beyond doubt. She’s carved out her own lane and put the pedal to the floor. “plague town” is deeply, authentically brilliant.
Listen to “plague town” here.