Ursae’s first single,” So Green Her Eyes, is an ode to an unusual lover: “I flirt with death every chance I get / Every time I see her she ignores me.” The object of singer Andrew Campbell’s desire is a dark mistress who “sleeps in hospital beds.”
Opening with just an electric guitar and drums, the track from their self-titled debut EP slowly adds an electric bass, vocals, and a vibraphone—giving the track a playful, childlike quality, enhanced further by high-pitched electronic touches almost like that of a video game soundtrack. Fans of indie rockers, The Postal Service, can understand what I’m talking about.
Campbell, a New York-based musician, told music blog Pancakes and Whiskey that the song is about, “this girl I had a crush on in high school, but was way out of my league…The song looks at depression and loneliness and says, ‘You might fantasize about death but it’s not right for you. Be with someone you deserve.’”
Ursae’s songs are about love, loss, and transformation—heavy themes balanced with light melodies. The EP’s most personal track, “Song for _____,” is directed at a lover the artist can’t bear to name. “Don’t torment me,” Campbell repeats longingly at the start of as if begging on his knees. But the sleepy vocals grow defiant, and the plea becomes a demand.
“Alchemize” also addresses cutting old ties. “If I could alchemize your name to something new / I might be free of you,” Campbell sings, sounding wistful and exasperated, as if trying to will his way out of heartache.
Ursae explores pain with harmonies, layered, electronic instrumentals, and even a sense of humor.
“Likeness,” the EP’s first song, is more abstract. Opening with minimal piano chords and steady drums, its lyrics—“Cable cars and subtle signs / They are our fathers’ mumbled rhymes”— are disconnected and poetic. The track also looks forward in contrast to the others. “We’ll make darker love with time,” Campbell promises over synthesizers, a vibraphone, piano, and drums.
The EP closes with a wordless sci-fi soundscape of echoing synthesizers, “Epilogue.” Meditative, sparse, and atmospheric, it’s a clear departure from the rest of the album, but comes off as an elegant period after a beautifully crafted sentence.
Ursae explores pain with harmonies, layered, electronic instrumentals, and even a sense of humor. Repeating simple lines like “Don’t torment me” and “Release me,” Ursae makes melodies out of heartache, and it’s hard not to sing along.
Ursae’s EP is due out in February 2017, and they’re playing on February 17th at Piano’s in New York City.
8,652 out of 10,000 Rawckus Kung Foo Throwing Stars.