Skullcrusher is not a metal band, or an industrial band, or whatever other abrasive genre you’re probably thinking of. It’s the solo project of LA singer-songwriter Helen Ballentine, a new Secretly Canadian signee who records quietly pretty guitar music in the spirit of the times. Pillowy indie ballads under the name Skullcrusher: You get it. It’s like the next logical progression from Phoebe Bridgers — who hails from the same city, is signed to sister label Dead Oceans, and writes similar songs — naming her album Punisher and wearing a skeleton T-shirt on the cover. Out by the Pacific, this is apparently the wave.
I’m teasing Skullcrusher here for being a few degrees too clever and on-trend, but I wouldn’t be posting “Places/Plans,” the opening track and lead single from her self-titled debut EP, if I didn’t enjoy it quite a bit. I like the way the soft guitar chords and gleaming vocal harmonies are eventually swallowed up by ambient beauty, as if Ballentine is converting her heaviest emotions into celestial light. “Places/Plans” is even better when paired with a video by directors Jeremy Reynoso and Silken Weinberg that’s as simple and effective as the song.
Here’s Ballentine’s statement on the tune:
I thought a lot about my self-worth during this period of uncertainty. “Places/Plans” attempts to communicate the beauty and vulnerability of being alone and what it means to let someone else in to see that. It feels like the thematic core of the EP. It is a song for being alone in your room, lying on the floor with a book and the window open, but also for letting someone in to lie with you.
Watch the video below.
03 “Two Weeks In December”
04 “Day Of Show”
Skullcrusher is out 6/26 on Secretly Canadian. Pre-order it here.