Bleach Lab have announced their debut EP ‘A Calm Sense of Surrounding’ and shared lead single ‘Old Ways’. The South London-based, Buckinghamshire-formed quartet marry the worlds of heart-on-sleeve songwriters like Julia Jacklin with the opalescent soundscapes of Mazzy Star and Cocteau Twins.
Though not how they imagined it, 2020 did prove to be a big year for the band. Their most recent single ‘Never Be’ – which features on the EP – was named ‘Track of the Day’ on Clash and received praise from DIY, So Young, Notion, Gigwise and many, many more.
Arriving March 19, the forthcoming EP melds together two traumatic experiences of grief; the death of bassist Josh Longman’s father and the breakdown of singer Jenna Kyle’s long-term relationship. In line with the collaborative ethos that informs the band, they both write the lyrics together.
Across the EP, Kyle and Longman use the five stages of grief as a basis to compare and contrast their experiences. The new single, ‘Old Ways’ looks at the first of those, anger.
Speaking about the track, Kyle says: “Old Ways explores the angry side of the grieving process at the end of a relationship. Anger towards the way in which they treated you but also towards oneself for still missing them regardless.”
The five stages of grief initially appear fairly formulaic and chronological – anger, denial, bargaining, depression and acceptance. However, the band explores the huge spectrum of emotions that lays hidden under those depths using the sea as a recurring metaphor.
This is not only explored in the lyrics but also in the soundscapes – primarily created by guitarist Frank Wates – which ripple, soothe and crash.
“When you think about it, water has so many different characteristics. It can resemble calm, tranquillity and slowness. Yet it can also be utterly terrifying – waves that dwarf you, ships desperate to stay afloat, dangerous predators unknowingly swimming under your feet. We felt this was similar to the whole mess of emotions which grief exposes you to and it subconsciously seeped into our lyrics and soundscapes”, explains Wates.
Listen to ‘Old Ways’ – BELOW:
For much of the EP, the harsh nature of their grief means they find themselves at the perils of the sea, tossed around like discarded plastic bottles. Through this suffering, though they’re able to reach the final stage of grief – acceptance – and from there they’re able to chart a course back to land and, using lessons learnt from their experiences, build a new base from where they can take on the world again.