07 Jun REVIEW: Eilish Gilligan – ‘The Feeling’
For those who have had their ears tuned to Eilish Gilligan‘s musical narrative over the years, ‘The Feeling‘ will come as a reward; something sweet to lift the winter blues, packed with all the elements of an Eilish track that keep us craving more.
From the Melbourne artist’s humble beginnings as a singer with a bedroom project and a SoundCloud account, Gilligan has graced international stages with her dreamy alt-pop group Frida, and as touring singer with Japanese Wallpaper.
‘The Feeling’ brings us back to her internal world, mapping instances when feelings get the better of rationality, and you can get a little lost underground. Lyrically, think Joni Mitchell or Bon Iver. Sonically, think Lorde or London Grammar.
Eilish rides the razor edge of sparse yet bubbly indie-pop, with a sprinkling of intense melancholy. If this is your first time hearing her music, ‘The Feeling’ is a wonderful introduction – it keeps true to the bedroom style of Eilish’s earlier work, while undertones of piano-house and dance-pop are indicative of her growth as an artist.
The track itself is as layered as its subject matter, with the Eilish’s musical roots in classical singing laying foundation to the melody. Easing us in, her voice is almost operatic, decorated with static and accompanied only by a simple but viscous chord progression — a moody opening reminiscent of The XX or The Knife. As distorted vocals kick in over a barely-there beat, Eilish casually puts things into gear and reminds us we’re listening to something that can’t be so easily pinpointed as dance track or piano ballad.
‘I’m in the ground / everyone else flies,’ Eilish sings as the building synths lap like waves that push us from wanting to dance to wanting to write prose poetry about heartache. With the mournfully sung ‘The Feeling comes / it comes again / it takes my breath,’ Eilish brings in a dancehall/house hybrid of layered percussions and synths that weave around her flowing vocals in a deceptively simple manner.
‘Deceptively’ being a key word here, as Eilish has an obvious talent for both composition and writing lyrics. There is a lot to be said for the art of boiling down complex emotional narratives into a skilfully crafted, bittersweet pop track, and ‘The Feeling’ does exactly that. Eilish has given us a track that steps onto the dance floor with its head still in the clouds, inviting us to do the same.