The last time we visited Eilish Gilligan was in ‘Hospital’ – her epic EP that was a dark and sombre reflection with close and personal imagery born from the claustrophobia and anxiety of a COVID era. In her new single, ‘Up All Night’, co-written with Alex Lahey and Gab Strum (Japanese Wallpaper), Gilligan metaphorically kicks off her shoes, lets her hair down and gets down and boogies. Well, maybe not quite, but ‘Up All Night’ seems like the break of dawn after a dark night – it bubbles with intensity and vivacity, showing Gilligan has a broad set of colours in which to paint her vivid soundscapes.
Gilligan says of the track:
‘Up All Night’ is the snap decision to go out, to stay up all night, to replace lovers with friends, to dance with a room full of strangers and sweat, to take drugs, to scream along and to blackout from drinking and full-body exhaustion. It’s my idea of the perfect version of that night, my idea of the perfect version of myself; someone who is fun, and chaotic, and the life of the party – not who I am, which is anxious, chronically sad, and frightened of drugs and blacking out and making out with strangers.
It is, in other words, that idealised world of happiness and release that we imagine is an appropriate response to celebrate but rarely really happens. As a resident of Melbourne – the city in Australia that was subject to numerous lockdowns during the COVID year, Gilligan is hesitantly expressing, perhaps, the tenuous joy as one emerges from the dark – the first steps into sunshine.
Nevertheless, the track is effervescent and upbeat – a thumping electro-bass and splashing synths with Gillligan’s gorgeous vocals and a sky-high chorus. There is an undeniable thread of melancholy in those vocals: creating that delicious, anxious and sublimated qualification to the joy.
Feature Photograph: Jeff Andersen jnr