NME darlings Spring King disbanded unexpectedly in late 2018. Since then, founding member Tarek Musa has returned to his solo roots as the singer and producer of Dead Nature.
While the circumstances of Spring King’s demise remain shrouded, it’s clear that Musa relished the challenge of working alone again: “I’ve written these songs with my heart on the line. They come from a place of creative peace. Putting these songs out is the beginning of a new chapter for me.”
On the opening track, Fire In Your Soul, Dead Nature dances between art rock and chart rock with ease. There’s shades of friends and former collaborators The 1975 as well as Arcade Fire. Musa explains “The voice note on my iPhone was just a bass guitar and a mumble of vocals, but I knew the message for this song was meant to be about pulling through challenging times. I had a close friend that was always on my mind, and I knew there was only so much I could do to help them. The overspill of emotions I had were channelled into this song as a message for anyone going through a tough time.”
The lyrics acknowledge uncertainty but it’s balanced by the importance of hope and action, however tentative: “I don’t really know if I’m gonna be fine/If I’m gonna find strength in this life I’ve made/Gotta find peace in every torn up sheet/Every empty dream, it’s the only way.”
The EP’s lead single, In My Heart, is an Editors-esque anthemic tune with buzzing guitars, drum cascades and sweet harmonies. The songs is about leaving a toxic relationship but there’s poetry in the escape: “I’m fleeing the city/And I’m finding the seas that no one knows.” Kudos for the ultra-subtle video too.
From the personal to the political, particularly the writings of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius! Pride (Wake Them Up) is a sunny sounding retro influenced tune about an insidious emotion. Aurelius words that “pride is a master of deception: when you think you’re occupied in the weightiest business, that’s when he has you in his spell” rang true to Musa when his former band was in the ascendancy.
The pace slows for an electronic ballad to end the EP. Rookwood is an intimate reflection on life in Musa’s childhood home. The metronomic nature of the piece swings back seamlessly into Fire In Your Soul which supports repeat listening of this buzzing EP.
Taking My Shadow is out now. Here’s how to hear it.
You can also check out Belicoso, the recent single he produced for Calva Louise.
Cover Art by Joe Wills
Photograph by Amin Musa