Album review: Merpire’s debut album ‘Simulation Ride’ is beautifully crafted rock serving to soothe the lost and lonely

Authentic, introspective and generous of heart, this album certainly is a soundtrack worth getting into the corners of our minds.

image credit: nick mckk

The Breakdown

ADA/Warner 8.0

Purveyor of sensitively insightful indie, Melbourne’s Merpire has just released her long-awaited debut album Simulation Ride via Warner’s ADA. The record is a heartening and satisfying culmination of the artist’s favourite songs, taken from the ‘video store of her mind’ and written over the course of the past few years. Merpire also co-produced with partner James Seymour, who engineered and mixed the album.

Simulation Ride is a collective tale of seeking out positivity in times of anxiety, an emotional journey that slowly works to remove the fear from negative mindsets. To Merpire, releasing music equates to releasing old thought processes and words that she hopes will help others feel less alone in their thoughts.

Having already shared the dreamy indie pop of lead single, Village – a song that tackles self-doubt and the realisation that you can’t be everything to everyone – the album continues this insightful lyricism and atmospheric guitar sound that Merpire (aka Rhiannon Atkinson-Howatt) has become known for. She takes seemingly simple real-life concepts and studies their complexities through her music.

Over the course of a year, Simulation Ride was recorded in locations that included a family sewing room, an Anglesea holiday house and a Brunswick bedroom. This included the drum parts, which resulted in each track having a unique drum sound.

From the sweet, harmonious despair of Lately and Brain Cells to the earnest and peculiar Dinosaur there is an acknowledgment of Merpire’s own battle with anxiety and confidence, but more importantly the growth that comes from facing the fight head on.  

Final track, the low-key Yusiimi features the sound of wine glasses ‘singing’ – a musical detail added after friends of the singer happened to make the sound – coincidentally – in the same key the song is written in. This relaxed recording process was able to capture such cleverly improvised moments, also giving time to return to each recording with fresh ideas.

“Something I think is quite special about this album is all the different locations, mindsets, times of year that contributed to making the album what it is. If we’d tried to record a certain song from scratch again, we might make different decisions depending on the mood we were in that day or where we were.” -Merpire

Merpire has already created a buzz in the indie scene, gaining the attention of NPR, PAPER and CLASH, among others. First appearing back in August 2018, she signed to indie management company Fright Night Music and showcased her material at Bigsound. This resulted in a steady fan-following, and by that year’s end Merpire had sold out her biggest headline show to date, supporting such big Australian names as Julia Jacklin, Angie McMahon, Didirri and Olympia. Her powerful and versatile live performances continue to captivate audiences, with plenty more to come.

Simulation Ride is a musical diary entry into the workings and not-workings of my mind,” Merpire says. “It exists in hope of connecting with fellow daydreaming experts in creating their own personal simulation ride. I take you through the rom-com and horror sections of my internal video store.”

Authentic, introspective and generous of heart, this album certainly is a soundtrack worth getting into the corners of our minds.

Simulation Ride is out everywhere NOW via Warner’s ADA

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