It may seem an obvious observation, but there is an unusual feeling of unity in self-depreciation. For something so personal and individually affecting, the way it feels collectively endured almost gifts the sense of hope and change of view that is sought after in the first instance. ‘No Lust For Life’, the new mini LP from the moniker of London’s Matthew Oliver, is a definitive example. A record steeped in themes of disparagement and at loss, it delivers an undeniably relatable course that is open, intuitive and most impressively, provides cathartic understanding.
The EP is effortlessly bittersweet in its cause, a concise collection of songs that combines warmth in clarity with Oliver’s newly discovered acerbic, impassioned style. The amiable coherence of the recordings are full of purpose, especially noted in Oliver’s now driven vocals. ‘Nothing’s New‘ fills the singer with spitting disappointment, left cold by the loss of love. “We talked / you made me happy // but was I really? / Who knew.” It’s Oliver’s ability to muster sadness into the frustrated questioning of himself where he’s so empathetic, unable to find the ultimate answers for things happening in life, the grit in his delivery the integral development, something that translates sonically also. ‘Hit The Ceiling‘ is resolute in it’s fundamental hooks, a unquestionably compelling mood meeting sighing harmonies that are an invitation for reverie. The disorientating melodies reverberate, almost lounge in their build-up; the slow-burning title track being the undoubted precipice. A sparse track, it grows from it’s within it’s melancholic verses into a grander statement of a chorus that really allows Oliver to hit home the unwavering theme of the record, how do you ultimately find happiness in life?
‘No Lust For Life‘s sonic cohesiveness is a soothing contrast for Oliver’s perspective, the EP influenced by transitions and ultimately, the need to make them. ‘Hit The Ceiling‘s tale of transition in hope to spark a change in his dejection is combined with Oliver’s mix of witty play on words and stark realism. “I’m heading for the smoke and a different life / I’ve been dragging my feet / keep getting left behind.” “I can feel my days / they just pass me by / feels like I’ve been waiting around to die.” from ‘Memory Lane’ is Matthew at his most definitive and perceptive, the sudden mood-change of sitting in your room, wasting days away to finding love and from that realising how it changes your awareness of life, a constant cycle of learning.
‘No Lust For Life‘ is one of the most insightful and personally welcoming records of the year, and in being so, is one of the best. Matthew Oliver’s transformation from murmuring shyly under waves of glittering lo-fi reverb to the powerful, effected voice here is a masterstroke in development, each of the six tracks are undeniably absorbing in their construction, and offer understanding in such a responsive nature. Oliver’s found his direction; it always there in a sonically compelling way, yet now has the emotional sense to take the songs to their peak. The record ends with the sound of a rewind in production, a symbolic note on the cycle of life, grow, fall, break, grow again. This life will take some getting used to.