These new love songs are full of heated musical complexity, but Nic Dyson remains at his best when simply reaching for the heart.
For most, it’s not hard to think back to a year or so ago. In the midst of lockdown – the first lockdown – the novelty of being off all the time was slipping. Across the scene artists radiated a peculiar confusion. The music industry had its legs broken as live shows stopped. Hyperpop was commandeered by a bunch of teenagers. Pain ran through us all like blood, there was art and community and glorious noise, and also the Hellfire Festival 108MICS hosted with Styx City Cult. Nic Dyson’s set was an unexpected respite. He was alone in a room with his guitar and microphone, maybe the slightest touch nervous, and regarded his songs and listeners with great care. The audience, separated by oceans, listened close to gather in that room.
Dyson’s latest songs are the thoughts of someone learning to move again. They come from imbalance. These singles, “Use You” and “TV Crimes” are strikingly intimate, clutching at timeless interpersonal stories as the narrative fabric of society keeps dissolving into liquid. Whether this counts as a mercy is up to the listener, but it seems impossible to not be touched by the chord progression of “Use You”, which falls and falls only to climb the couple of steps it can, or the tightrope vocals of “TV Crimes” shaking side to side thanks to liberal tape flutter. Released many weeks apart these tracks are linked by a struggle to keep even footing. “Use You” in particular becomes a very pretty maze, but a maze nonetheless, as glassy synthesisers add aqueous pressure. As producer, Roman Clarke deserves their own flowers – mixing and mastering is professional right through to the headiest moments. Dyson retains his sense of care, and in turn continues to inspire close listening
In contrast the lyrics of both tunes are fairly simple, relying on candour and light imagery. “There’s a pink moon shining for you tonight” opens “Use You”, but any supernatural flair is cast off in a profoundly touching chorus; “I could really use you, right now” is shattering, not so much like a hammer against glass but like another mile to worn feet. “I’m gonna blow up my TV so I can dream in black and white” roots the song deep in the night. “TV Crimes” then, is that black and white dream. Dyson fights to keep his thoughts from layering as his voice does. “So I blew my ears out just to kill the conversation” is a struggle, “underwater, and some day I’ll end this pain” is powerfully rushed. Last year’s confusion meets this years exhaustion in a terrific display of vocal confidence. Through the night, though, is a young positivity, born out of equal parts necessity and willpower; as the guitar lines of “TV Crimes” build, so does hope.
Listen to “Use You” here.
Listen to “TV Crimes” here.
– Jamie (Staff @108MICS)