Artist Review: THYLA

‘Musical metaphors and powerful, pristine vocals make for a sound that goes against the grain’

Intro to THYLA:
Bursting onto the music scene last year with two Soundcloud releases (Car Crash & Motherlode), Brighton based band THYLA are back with a re-worked sound. Fronted by Millie Duthie, their style is one that goes against what has become the ‘expected normality’ of the modern music world and sees them creating tracks filled with metaphorical meaning. One thing is for certain, they have a point to make and you can’t help but listen.

Featured Track 1: Ferris Wheels
Opening unapologetically with its thumping drums, ‘Ferris Wheels’ is full of impact right from the start. Equally, it’s full of musicality and as the sumptuous combination of echoed and distorted guitar lines sets out the harmonic ideas, you know it’s gearing up to be quite a track.

Reaching the initial verse, a relatively contrasting atmosphere is created and with Millie’s flawless, high pitched lead vocal sitting on top of fading strummed guitar chords, there is an unusual use of space in the accompaniment. This said, the driving drum beat gives a real sense of power and provides unity as it takes us into the energy-filled chorus.

Here, rather than being completely centre stage like in the verse, the vocal sits within the mix. In doing so, there is a real sense that both the rock-based nature of the accompaniment and the softer nature of the vocal are of equal importance. Could this indeed be the first of many musical metaphors which direct us away from the expected norm? I would like to think so.

Following this, there is a return to the luscious swirling sound of the introduction which provides the perfect link into the second verse. Unexpectedly though, on reaching verse two, the accompaniment slips into more of a background role, and the sense of importance very much moves to Millie’s vocal. This, as it turns out, lays the perfect musical foundations for the remainder of the track and on reaching the title lyrics, there is a noticeable shift.

Musically highlighting the words ‘it’s like ferris wheels at the forefront now,’ this line – which could well be a metaphor relating to the never-ending cycle of ‘mainstream artists’ – is set against an accompaniment that now includes prog-rock style organ ideas. This shift is a real stroke of genius as not only does it draw extra attention to the very message within the track, but it also gives us the chance to appreciate another side to THYLA’s music. From start to finish, it’s a musical ride that you want to go on again.

Featured Track 2: Pristine Dream
In contrast to the introduction of ‘Ferris Wheels,’ THYLA’s latest release, ‘Pristine Dream’ sets off with swirling guitar and free-form drum beats. It’s full of intrigue and as you reach the initial lyrics of ‘Penny for your thoughts?’ it’s like THYLA know you are thinking: ‘Just what is going on?’

However, taking the track into a contrasting direction almost straight away, Millie’s clear yet edgy sounding vocal enables the message within the first verse to come through. Underneath this, echoing guitar notes and rhythmic drum patterns give the track  momentum and a subtle sense of urgency.

Following this initial verse, an interlude – which combines the previous accompanying ideas with whiny theremin-like sounding solo guitar lines – hints at another musical metaphor: distaste of the mainstream music industry. Enhancing this theme further, there is then an extended pre-chorus seeing these musical ideas developed even more. The sound here – as per their intention – is not like any mainstream music. However, while this may be the case, it’s hard not to notice the rather Siouxsie and the Banshees style atmosphere of the chorus when it kicks in.

Here, in a statement-like way, the lyrics of ‘I will never be a pristine dream’ are projected over the now highly polyphonic accompanying textures. It’s a complex sound and one that’s full of 80’s alt-rock influences. As for the lyrics, the musicality and control of Millie’s vocal enables them to cut through easily, ensuring the message is never lost. However, while an incredible sound, it is nothing compared to how the track develops in the final section. Ever-evolving, its experimental sound leaves you just as intrigued as you were at the start.

Both ‘Ferris Wheels’ and ‘Pristine Dream’ by THYLA are available to buy on iTunes now and you can follow them on Twitter by clicking here.

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