Aidan Tulloch is a 20-year-old singer/songwriter/composer/poet who creates contemporary alternative music for the fever pitches of everyday life. Writing for both page and stage, the Thirsk-raised artist is currently based between North Yorkshire and Cambridge where he is at university. His forthcoming EP, Somewhere Without Lights, is his truest record so far; a nostalgic retrospective that intersects recollections of a gritty Yorkshire youth with mature artistic sensibilities.
The down-to-earth musician’s honest and emotive five-track EP emerges from the idea of feeling truly alive, whether that’s in a dark night of the soul, or dancing until they turn the lights on. It’s also a record fascinated by the night, where, as Tulloch says, “sound and light get a chance to go off piste.”
The release begins with the exhilarating “Milk and Orange Juice.” A track that recalls the familiar catharsis of a heady night. Warm and sporty, the song is built around a phenomenally distinctive and incandescent drop. This track also showcases Tulloch’s own live violin, giving a nod to his classical training, blending old and new to craft a fresh and forward-thinking sound.
Then there is “Goalposts” — a throwback indie rock festival singalong that might just make you feel 16 again. Euphoric guitar riffs create a space for Tulloch to look back to the endless summer days of his North Yorkshire adolescence.
Next, the record’s centrepiece is the understated “Santa Susanna,” where vague impressions and recollections constitute an intimate reverie with a hazy, on the road, homemade vibe.
“Song for Armageddon,” perhaps the record’s most energetic highlight is a song to turn to when it all becomes too much. Driving beats, soaring synths, and jangly guitars propel this euphoric floor-filler. Ticking all the boxes for a generational anthem, the track is something immense, something beautiful, something nostalgic, and something visceral.
Finally, title track “Somewhere Without Lights” is the calm after the storm; the warm, still evening after the oppressive heat; the huge emptiness; the fingers through your hair when you lie in bed; the space. Showcasing Tulloch’s real knack for cinematic piano, it’s a lyricless canvas that uses unconventional time signatures, organic textures, and icy pianos to bring a clear and peaceful end to the record.
With the aim of creating music that can be a sanctuary or outlet for others, the songwriter shares: — “As a fan, I’ve noticed the beautiful effect that music can have on people in terms of euphoria, comfort, intensity, and depth. I’m at a stage now where I want to create that for other people. Sometimes everything just seems banal, stagnant, stuck, and I want to create musical and poetic environments to feel released from that.”
Inspired by music that breaks new artistic ground and embraces the complexity of humanity, Tulloch owes a lot to his love of projects like The National and Kiasmos while also drawing from minimalist composers like Cage, Glass and Reich. In all, this EP is postmodern in that it’s referential — the artist opens a photo album and finds sketches of himself listening to indie rock, pop, electronica, folk, and classical and listens to that all over again.
While, on the surface, Tulloch often indulges in infectious, frivolous pop, his razor sharp lyrics and high-quality musicianship ensure that Somewhere Without Lights is always brutally profound. This substantial first record might just be the earliest sign of a refreshingly authentic, likeable, and talented artist — feeling his way as the poster-boy-next-door for a new generation as he tentatively comes of age.