Words: Hannah Williams
I first listened to Heights whilst I was doing work experience. I was filling an Excel document with press contacts, copying and pasting email addresses into columns. I’d seen the release shared by a couple of bands on Facebook - one of them was Jawbreaker Reunion, the band Lily Mastrodimus is a part of - and I was slightly bored, and I decided to listen whilst I organized the database. Ten minutes later, I had to press pause because my eyes were welling up (which I thought was probably slightly unprofessional). I listened to it again later that night, walking through the city I was going to shortly have to leave. It was dark, and it was warm, and the oncoming night had made the smell of the blooming flowers more immediate. And Lily sang about love and loneliness and how your heart is “like a racehorse galloping”, and there was that moment where you almost can’t bear it - can’t bear that somebody is able to articulate all those muddy eddies of feelings so sweetly and so perfectly.
Sometimes you grow to love an artist’s voice because of their lyrics; the limits or imperfections in their voice become inseparable from their words. It’s not like that with Long Neck. Lily’s voice is strikingly beautiful; mature and naive and there, close to you. She knows when to hold back, seen in the simple devastation of her “don’t it hurt?” at the end of “Six Pack’s” chorus, the guitar reverting back to the sweet, eerie melody introduced earlier as the familiar pain washes back over. The knowledge of how best to use restraint is matched by her ability to abandon it - towards the end of “Lullaby” she allows us the catharsis of her raised voice, singing “you are so much better than he was, you are so much better than he will ever be”. Her voice and the sentiment are powerful in their honesty, and yet incredibly vulnerable at the same time. It’s this mix that allows the songs to feel so present; you’re teetering on the knife-edge between love and emotional collapse. She’s never flashy or over the top, and her desolation is all the more heart-breaking for this quietness - unanswered letters, passing out alone on the couch, a hopeful promise to be back - they are so universal, so human in their intimacy. She understands what it is to be lonely, how we articulate it in the hope that somehow we will feel less alone. The line “we don’t talk much anymore and somedays it just kills me” is a perfect encapsulation of that soft ache for the places in which we belonged, for the people we belonged with.
The final track, ‘The Woods’ ends with “I can hear your voice now/ calling through the dark, it’s a dizzying sound/ I can hear your voice now”, and there’s no better summation of Heights. With the album Long Neck is calling to us through the loneliness, the yearning, the hurt - listen to her.