There’s something earnest and open about Picking at Stitches, there’s a frailty, a smooth sense of depth. It’s an honest depiction of self-isolation, its effects and its slow draw on power. All these themes are now more widely felt, but depression lived long before Covid. And if our shared experience of fear and enclosure makes depression a little more understandable, then maybe that’s some silver lining.
As a fragile high voice moves to thin chord piano, it’s tough not to move along with it. As sounds start to bleed in and falsettos stretch, as echoes of strings start to build, there’s the feel of conflicting emotions; There’s the guilt and the warmth of the small room around us, the frustration at being so locked in. That slow lure of comfort that slides into panic, that’s the twist at the heart of the song.
From the track’s shy beginnings it rises and falls, it grows into a one bedroom opera. Minutia and details of self-confined living, they develop like matchbox sized orchestras. “Even the cat is concerning herself / With my melodramatic display”; it’s with cool wit and nuance that Picking at Stitches creates its own grandeur and charm.
While the song pulls us in to connect, we might pick out Go Robot, vintage Divine Comedy or even King Of Limbs in the way it delivers on feeling. But watched with the video it’s bigger, it’s a stop-motion portrait of panic.
Inviting shades fade, all the ease disappears, plasticine sofas once padded and smooth grow limbs like The Thing and turn ugly. From comfort to crutch to constraint, it’s a frightening and fearless transition. There are hints of happy endings, even the cat shows signs of love, but they only come after the strangle and grip of a mindset is openly shown.
As two pieces together it’s faultless. It achieves with affection and humour in three minutes what an hour of talking just touches. It’s the centrepiece of The Last Morrell’s new EP, out now to download and stream.