It almost feels like Kennedy Ashlyn knew the latest wave of Kate Bush frenzy was about to crash as she was compiling the songs for her second solo release under the moniker SRSQ. After channeling Bush’s gothic-pop-opera sensibilities to process grief on her first collection of songs following the tragic death of her Them Are Us Too bandmate in the 2016 Ghost Ship fire, the follow-up project Ever Crashing pushes past this now-chic-again sonic reference point to create something considerably more experimental, which seemingly incorporates more ahead-of-the-curve influences all to a lesser degree.
With a cyclical structure that opens and closes with a similar sense of self-reflection, the album title alludes to the endless violent crashing of waves on an otherwise-tranquil beach at night (the album cover even literalizes this image). Yet there’s a vast array of sounds housed between that opening track’s grandiose, layered, and vaguely triumphant swell and the closing single’s wailing-guitar-over-jungle-beat finale (though both tracks interestingly integrate what sounds like pipe organ). At times the lyrical themes feel heavier than they did on 2018’s Unreality (e.g. “Let the rapture blow through my sorry corpse”), and the song lengths have stretched to average between five and seven minutes—but such details become secondary when each individual song feels like its own individual capsule of euphoric dance music.
With the record out today via Dais, Ashlyn took the time to dive back into the dark headspaces that inspired all 10 of these glistening tracks, demonstrating how she was able to refract depression and grief as euphoric dream pop to get turnt to (though maybe not in the way you’d expect).
1. “It Always Rains”
This song is a bleak reflection that took place in the early morning hours as I watched the sunlight creep into my bedroom after yet another sleepless night. I never knew a sunrise to be so hopeless. My mind was swimming with a brand of self-pity that only accompanies sheer exhaustion. I felt like the light was mocking me, heavily hinting at my own inevitable cycles—ironically foreboding, given what sunrise usually represents. It was a very sad moment.
2. “Saved for Summer”
This song is like an eye roll in the depths of a low point. There comes a point where the pain of depression becomes more annoying than anything. It starts to feel like a cruel joke, and I just felt so over it that I almost became flippant toward it. I felt very 15.
3. “Dead Loss”
I landed in London in 2019 to do some dates with Drab Majesty only to discover that none of my gear had arrived. Within eight hours, I had lost my phone. I had always fancied myself a “hot mess,” which I think was (is) my cheeky attempt at owning the fact that I felt/feel like a total fuckup. I felt like I was constantly trying really hard to keep my shit together and always failing. This latest series of missteps sent me into a total tailspin, rendering me practically incapable of navigating the situation. Luckily, Tamaryn helped me get my ass in gear, and I was able to start the tour with all necessities in tow. I wrote this song in her shower. (I also lost my phone again within two weeks.)
4. “Used to Love”
This song is about trying to rekindle a dying flame, and trying to understand how something that once shone so bright could wither away.
5. “Ever Crashing”
You know when you’re bodysurfing and you somehow don’t time the wave right and you get caught up in the white part of the break and it turns you upside down and you hit your head and swallow 10 gallons of sand and saltwater? I call that “getting turnt.” “Ever Crashing” refers to being stuck there, in perpetuity.
“Fear” was written right at the beginning of the pandemic. I remember feeling so close to the concept of death—like we were really at the end of the world, and I was desperate for any guiding hand or reassurance that things would be OK. I was so afraid and so sickened by the inaction of our leaders, so saddened by the lack of reverence displayed for human life (little did I know…), I was so shaken by the uncertainty of the moment, and I found myself yearning for my old life before I even really had a chance to miss it.
7. “Winter, Slowly”
At some point after being so utterly depressed for so long, when there’s literally no life force left within you, no light behind your eyes…all that’s left to do is put on a pair of sunglasses and smoke 10,000 cigarettes and give a fat middle finger to your entire life. This song is that middle finger.
This song is just about, like, being in such deep emotional pain. The lyrics describe being suspended on my back in saltwater with my skin peeled off, so it burns like hell, and I look up at a glowing orb—the promise of a peaceful existence—that seems so close, but is impossible to reach. “Abyss” is about mourning the life I thought I would have, wish I could have…and surrendering to the shadows. Only in surrender does light finally shine through the water, illuminating the darkness, and pulling me up…if only for a short time.
9. “Élan Vital”
“Je m’abandonne a Élan Vital” loosely translates to “I surrender myself to the vital life force.” It’s sort of a personal mantra or affirmation about shedding my own bullshit, and all the bullshit of life, in order to be in an utter flow state, truly connected to the energy of the universe. In my life, I access that space through song. This realization, and the willingness to destroy all the things that I think I am, is the climax of the record, the pivotal moment of transformation.
10. “Someday I Will Bask in the Sun”
The album ends like it begins, in reflection. Although the content of this song and “It Always Rains” are extremely similar, there is an obvious mood shift, from desperation to tepid hope. That shift comes from the newfound willingness to let go of who I think I am in exchange for a new way of being. I’ve yet to figure out how to do that, but maybe that’s the journey for the next record.