We asked the duo of Oscar Dawson and Timothy Carroll to walk us through each song off the album and the story behind its creation. Enjoy.
That MessageThe opener. 'That Message' is a world of synths and sleigh bells. An electronic beat is met with live drums. Stark, spoken-word lyrics over layers of call-and-response guitars. It's a song about the allure of populism and how impossible solutions are more appealing than complicated truths. - Timothy Carroll
Willow Tree'Willow Tree' is a song in two halves. The song itself features a sharp, driving rhythm and layered, hillbilly harmonies. The lyrics examine how we sometimes do things that are impossible to justify. The outro is a long movement based around the rubbery repeat of a moog line and a build of drums, bass and guitar over that melody. - Timothy Carroll
ElevatorAfter finishing our first record, we gingerly approached the second one, unsure what, or even if, it would become. It was almost like a meeting between old lovers that have been apart for a long time; we eased into conversation and then before we knew it, we were back in the sack again.
Tim had constructed some rolling chords, with melodies, and played them to us while we were on the road in the UK. In a dingy rehearsal room, beneath a noisy train line in East London, we suddenly found it becoming something else, which eventually became 'Elevator'. That was one of the sparks that helped us to realise that we could launch into a second album. And so we set off on the journey that became 'PAINT'. - Oscar Dawson
ShadowA song about the temptation to hide away when things get dark. For me, the grand piano is key in this track. It drives the songs along and is the river upon which the guitars and vocals float. The extended outro is a densely layered movement, which changes one sound at a time with each pass. - Timothy Carroll
Gilded AgeVerse one is slow and deliberate. The chorus jumps to double time and the vocals rush to keep up. Verse two is familiar, but the landscape is different and the outro is a breathless rant. The vocal take in this was recorded as a guide but in the end, it was the take that felt the best so we used it. - Timothy Carroll
True LoversAll of our songs are, to some extent, co-written. This is the first time, though, that our producer, Matt Redlich, started the process. He'd conceived this chorus and it had been floating around for some time. Occasionally, in the tour van, we’d ask Matt when he was going to finish and release the damn thing. Then, at some point in the past 12 months, we realised that the answer was staring us directly in the face.
Once Tim had developed the verses, we'd played it a bunch of times, and slapped a guitar solo on it - 'True Lovers' became a HOLY HOLY song. - Oscar Dawson
AmateursThis was another of the early songs we wrote and recorded. Like many songs, we stumbled around in the darkness with a flashlight, hoping we'd illuminate a finished product. Maybe we would have been better just waiting in the darkness for the sun to come up, and eventually it just did. At some point along the line, we just stopped trying and a song happened. - Oscar Dawson
DarwinismIn 'Darwinsim', we had this idea of starting with just a riff and drum beat and slowing introducing elements until it reached a peak. Grand piano, choir, horns and drums fight for space in the mix. Verse one is set in present day and verse two jumps back to the night the characters met. The opening line was inspired by Leunig's seven types of ordinary happiness. - Timothy Carroll
DecemberThis song was the last one that we wrote before the album was finished. We had planned to put another (different) tune on the record, but then in pre-production we were playing as a band, and this song happened. Really, quite quickly. It was one of those moments where the feel of the record was complete; a song, written by the whole band, together in the room.
And so we immediately stopped thinking about the other song, and 'December' was the final song we wrote for this record. - Oscar Dawson
Send My RegardsSometimes a song is like a dropped vase, that looks beautiful as it falls and smashes; and then, you superglue it back together and put it on the mantlepiece. And sometimes, you just let it sit on the floor, all smashed up. This is one of those songs. We wrote the basic parts in a break in recording, at Head Gap in Preston (Victoria). It was unplanned. Then, months later, we realised it might actually be worth turning into a song.
Normally we would try to structure a song into coherent verses, choruses, and so on; so there was the painstaking effort to put it back together. But then we realised it was more beautiful shattered into pieces. So, in the end, we barely touched it. When Tim put some fresh vocals and lyrics atop it, the flow was there; it felt good. Why change anything? And, of course, finish it off with a two-part harmonised guitar solo. - Oscar Dawson
'PAINT' is available now.