On aesthetics alone, the artwork for Aren’t‘s new EP ‘Creatures Of Habit’ (illustrated by Grace Taylor) is extraordinarily beautiful. Fittingly, the illustrations have a joyous emotional warmth and fragility that is a palimpsest for the shimmering songs within, reflecting the stunning music within. Aren’t is Fionn Richards – last seen in Brisbane band Requin which burned brightly but tragically briefly, leaving behind an impressive body of work (see our review of the single ‘Rules That Won’t Be Broken’ last year).
Aren’t combines deceptively simple acoustic base for his craft that in reality is complex and intricate filigree that burnishes the songs. His lyrics display a deep romanticism and poetry, earnest, raw and vulnerable creating an intimate aura. I’m luck enough to have seen him live preforming these songs: an immersive and mesmerising performance that brought life to these gems.
Opening track ‘Black From The Dark’, featuring the remarkable backing vocals of McKisko (multi-instrumentalist Helen Franzmann, who also sings with the magnificent Mess-Esque), is a gorgeous, nuanced piece with haunting strings and a mesmerising reflective tone. At a little under 2 minutes, the floating, dappling track is gone before you know it – lulling the listener into a wondrous trance that lingers long after the track ends.
This is followed by ‘For Love’ -an exquisitely beautiful, poised and reflective piece of indie folk that is delicate and mesmerising. I was lucky enough to witness to this being played live at the recent 4000 Records Birthday Party (where the hauntingly glacial Amber Ramsay from Cloud Tangle took on the backing vocals). It was just transfixing watching Richards play: his prowess at the finger picking style of guitar was jaw dropping and his presence enigmatic and reserved.
‘I Guess I’ve Figured It Out’ has a gorgeous interplay with rippling guitars and a deep sonorous and rich cello as Richard’s raw vocals drip with reflective melancholia. The sparse and open structure creates an endless horizon as the guitars strums like a harp.
The final title track featuring Cameron Smith on drums (Spirit Bunny, St. Augustus, Ghost Notes, Terra Pines) is even sparser – Richards’s voice almost alone to the fore, sometimes almost quietly speaking in a hushed reverent tone that is almost spiritual and ecclesiastical. The lyrics are beautiful and evocative:
One day I’ll think up a thought
I’ll let go
One day I’ll make up a song
And we’ll go
One day I’ll lift up the world
And let go
I’ve been swallowing all of my life
Now I make the time to cry
The EP ‘Creatures Of Habit’ is a beautiful and luminescent reflection of Richard’s deepest thoughts and feelings: exposed, vulnerable and extremely moving. It is a personal treatise expressed with an understated grace delivered on a crystalline acoustic cloud; a magnificent work of art, both inside and out. The EP is out today through the inestimable 4000 Records and features a short run of 30 cassette tapes with an exclusive b-side including three pieces of poetry written and read by Richards. Art that makes the heart glow.
You can catch Aren’t with ambient maestro Lite Fails (see my review of the singles ‘On A Clear Day’ and ‘What The Bellbirds Were Saying’ here) launching their respective releases on Thursday, 9 December 2021 at Brisbane’s Can You Keep A Secret – details and tickets here.
Feature Photograph: Sophie Richards (@sphrchrds)