Yesterday was the winter solstice, and who better to release a song to celebrate the occasion than Grouper? “Headache” will be released as the a-side of a limited edition 7″ entitled Paradise Valley, and it’s the sort of affectlessly beautiful and ever-so-slightly-sinister piece that Liz Harris does better than pretty much anyone.
As the track emerges slowly from silence, feeling its way into the light, Harris sings — with a degree of clarity unusual for her — “My mother once told me she walked into the ocean/ [She] didn’t want to die/ [She] just couldn’t tell where the horizon was.” Water is a staple of Grouper’s lyrical imagery, and it’s perfect here: this track feels like those cold waves closing gently over your heard, the pink light of the sunset flashing off their crests before it disappears altogether. It’s both soothing and numbing, perfect for letting the world just slide away. It also comes with a similarly beautiful video from Paul Clipson:
The b-side — “I’m Clean Now,” which you can hear here — is more delicate still, its lyrics lost in reverb-laden piano and washes of echo. Together, these tracks make for the first new release we’ve heard from Grouper since 2014’s Ruins, and thank god she’s released something in a year when we’ve needed her more than ever. (If you’ve not tried to combat a late-night Trump-catalysed existential crisis with a xanax and Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill on headphones, you’re a stronger person than I am. Or a Republican, I guess.)