Hui. has delivered a sonically stunning story about the adversities of mental health.
Surging with atmospheric indie-pop acoustic guitars and delicately entwined vocal melodies, Melbourne (Naarm)-based singer-songwriter Hui. (the solo project of multi-instrumentalist Hugh William Davies) has just unveiled his self-titled debut EP.
Commonly known for his role within The Hugh William Davies Band, Davies has been thriving with the eclectic, electronic sound that is Hui. since its inception in 2018, delivering a visceral, multi-layered EP comprising of four super lush tracks.
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Using the pandemic and lockdown periods to focus on making his latest release, the EP is deeply personal and experimental. Taking inspiration from The Paper Kites, The National and singer-songwriters like Nick Drake, Thom Yorke and Brandon Wolfe Scott, the EP epitomises Davies as both an expert songwriter and proficient musician, providing a lush, dark soundtrack straight from the deeper confines of his lyrical provisions. Raw and relatable, Davies has presented his most intimate feelings and emotions for the world to see in this cohesive set of tracks focused on mental health and the adversities that it can bring to friendships and relationships.
With deep roots in electronica-soul evident in previously released singles ‘Skylines’, ‘Low’ and ‘Ghost’, the EP marks a pivotal change in sound, melding indie-rock elements, and intricately beautiful thoughtfulness and cinematic style of songwriting, blurred with electronic and modern production. Blending lush instrumentals and pitch-perfect pop-infused melodies, there’s undeniable beauty and intimacy forged through an incredible gentle soundscape and it’s a welcome change to the artist’s discography. With melancholy yearning and wistful reflection, Davies’ acoustic guitar is bathed in a nice sonic ambience across all four mellow tracks.
The debut EP opens with the previously released single ‘Saganaki’, a laid-back track packed with signature airy and smooth vocals, subtle percussion, catchy guitar hook and crescendo of sonority telling the story of a person struggling with distance, isolated from the person they love.
With beautiful strings and a vocal tone so rich, experiences of love and heartbreak are tightly packaged within a stunning sonic aesthetic that envelops the listener into vivid cinematic introspect of their own experiences. The lyrics cohere with the Davies’ new-found image and sound, heartbreaking yet full of delicacy: “Oh I don’t give a fuck about a one-way ticket, I were in the middle of a dream of a picket fence, No pretence I won’t waste your time,” he sings.
As a pulsating upbeat rhythm drives ‘Cut ties, leave notes’, you’ve encased in a sweet cocoon of Hugh’s dulcet vocals, hypnotic guitars and swirling electronic accompaniments that will fill you with a certain type of warmth despite the melancholic lyrics. Blending quiet introspection with a need to let go of troubles, Davies sings “paralysed to cut ties, remorse has really got you swayed, your cards have all been played, swing swing like a pendulum, kick kick like a kangaroo, at dawn in the living room irony in morning dew if only you could see the view”.
‘Smokescreen’ does not break from the pattern of breathtakingly delicate composition but stands as a completely different immersive experience, with drums that grow and descend with urgency and raw soaring vocals. Davies proves his impeccable songwriting abilities and heart-wrenching layers of sonics, as he croons “I don’t care for what you say or what you want from me, I can’t stay around for someone who only sees their needs, why would I?”
Although a deep-seated melancholy lies at the heart of the track, the heavy feeling is juxtaposed by light electronics and ambient guitar swells that manage to maintain the intense emotions in a beautifully fragile way.
The EP finishes with ‘Worth – B-Side’, a delicate four-minute slow-burning journey of self-discovery and reflection. With an acoustic guitar providing the undercurrent, the final track is bathed in pillowy sonic ambience providing an excellent platform for showcasing Davies’ unique, sorrowful croon: “And I thought to myself, is it really all worth it baby, worth it baby now”.
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Capitalising on the ballad driven basics and sleeve wearing heartbeats of his songwriting while embracing lush soundscapes across all four tracks, the EP was recorded and produced by long-time collaborator Rino, in his Melbourne-based bedroom over the extensive lockdown period.
It feels like a breath of fresh air with Davies showcasing his experimental flair on a bedroom-recorded release, opting for a guitar-driven sound that still grasps the lo-fi elements of his previous releases.
“I’ve spent the past few months sporadically rushing to Rino’s place whenever I could. The EP was recorded, produced and mastered in between lockdowns this year, and I’m really proud that we managed to finish it,” Hugh says.
“The entire EP was recorded in a bedroom. We even had a microphone in the closet, because the shirts acted like a soundproofed vocal booth.
“The pandemic and lockdowns have really changed the way musicians have had to work – we didn’t have the luxury of face-to-face recording, networking or brainstorming time, so when we managed to squeeze some in, we really had to make the most of it.”
Every note, every beat, and every word has been thought out to accurately reflect the emotions surrounding the adversities of the modern world.
A perfect rainy-day record, laid-back and mellow, Davies has created an engrossing listen that unfurls like a soft blanket as the mood deepens and the stories unfold across the four luxurious, inviting tracks.
Breathy vocals, brilliant lyricism and Davies’ unique brand of dreamy alternative indie-pop have come together in this EP to create an offering that fails you in no way.
With Hui. and his debut EP, Davies has set a strong foundation for a sound that will continue to turn more heads in the future, when the singer-songwriter has formed more of a presence, allowing him to branch out to bigger and better things.
Listen to Hui’s debut EP below and keep up with the latest here.