Review: Skullcrusher EP

Skullcrusher’s debut, self-titled EP was released on June 26, 2020 through Secretly Canadian. It is the work of Helen Ballentine, a visual artist turned singer-song writer. Although she has played guitar since childhood, the EP was born from a period of unemployment after discovering that gallery work was not her passion. She wrote and released her first song, “Places/Plans”, while nannying and hasn’t stopped releasing music since.

It is evident that the songs were born out of a period of self-reflection. Although the record is short, with four songs in only twelve minutes, its confessional lyrics linger. Most of the songs feature just her and gently-strummed guitar, but they pack a punch. They explore the intimate details of uncertainty and insecurity, saying words commonly thought but not often said out loud. The song “Trace” is particularly notable, as it grapples with the long overdue end of a relationship. She sings, “If I get up will it be worse? / If I stay here what is that worth?”. Her lyrics read like a journal entry, almost invasive but still universal. 

The EP is particularly potent in the midst of a pandemic. In “Day of Show”, she sings, “I’ve been searching for an hour in my closet/ Trying to figure out what to wear/ For a day I’ll spend alone in my room/ Leaning in I’ll cut the back of my hair”. She copes with lack of structure and loss of meaning with open arms, creating poetry out of the everyday struggles plaguing life. She writes in the moment, no matter how turbulent the moment may be. Ballentine’s candor is a breath of fresh air and a hug from an old friend.

Skullcrusher has recently come out with a new single: Song for Nick Drake

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