Semantics have been a staple of the Australian punk and indie music scenes for quite some time now. From sharing the stage with big name bands like Violent Soho and WAAX, the supergroup have released their debut album ‘Paint Me Blue’. A record which, in my opinion, will be one of the most important releases of the year. Like a comfort blanket for a down day, ‘Paint Me Blue’ doesn’t shy away from heavy topics, delicately speaking about loneliness, mental health, domestic abuse and more. Semantics approach these topics with such care and compassion, solidifying every song as a way to feel more understood with each listen.
The album begins on a high with high-energy opener Carousel. Jumping from a chaotic blend of heavy, dissonant guitars to sombre, softer sections, the song details the emotional rollercoaster of being in a long distance relationship. “I can’t be there for you when you call me up at night, though I try”. The track brilliantly depicts the desperation to connect with someone intangible. Get In The Car is like the sister song to Carousel; following the exact same themes and narrative, the song focuses on combatting the feelings of loneliness by doing something to feel better. A motivational, upbeat track to hype you up on a dark day to get up out of bed and choose to be fulfilled.
As a victim of domestic abuse myself, This Love Could Kill You came as a welcome surprise. Depicting an abusive relationship from the perspective of the victim’s friend, the song is an important message and a vital viewpoint to faction in protecting someone stuck in this situation. Through listing and detailing the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it red flags, the song exemplifies the power of the bystander and what to look out for to help save a friend from a bad relationship. The song views these signs through the lens of hindsight; looking back at the relationship to pick apart the small behaviours they missed. It’s refreshing to hear a song from this perspective; with a sea of survivor songs, This Love Could Kill You acts as a way to feel cared for when you don’t feel like a survivor at all, you just feel sad.
The trippy atmospheric outro fades out into the first few janky chords of Lighter Glow. The song has an eery, haunting and atmospheric sound to it. Depicting thrill-chasing and recklessness through moments of low mental health, the track sounds exactly as this feels like; the small joys distracting you from an underlying sadness when you get impulsive or manic. Didn’t Want To Hurt You sounds as if it could have fit on My Chemical Romance’s ‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’. With belted lyrics, hard and fast drums and great world-painting, the song details a breakup, focusing on the small events and specifics that seem arbitrary, but can be when we feel at our lowest. “I pack up all our things and split our CD’s… I didn’t want to hurt you, I know what you’ve been through”.
Embrace Monotony opens with cruisy, beach-y guitars, a happy space in the middle of an emotionally heavy album. The song feels as good as it feels to listen to. About finding peace and happiness in the small things, the song focuses on how you can shift how you see things and appreciate your life, even when times are bleak. “Some things are better off if you turn the other cheek”. “It’s a long road to closure” opens Sad Songs. Produced to sound like it was just sung and recorded in a bedroom, the track is stripped-back completely, aiding the emotional aspect of the song perfectly. Describing the aftermath of a breakup, the track focuses on how everything you’re surrounded with in your hometown reminds you of the love you lost.
“Your skin doesn’t feel the same to me, it’s not half as inviting as it used to be. And I’ve been thinking we’ve got it all wrong… Because all I ever sing is sad songs.”
Last Time continues this idea, detailing a breakup after more time has passed; when things aren’t so raw, but you’re still so sad. “I just want to let go” repeats, echoing throughout the track like an almost desperate mantra to feel better. “We’re still connected when I’m with you or without”. Leafwing is the most beautiful track on the album, while also being the heaviest. Using the metaphor of a cocoon, the track describes growing from and moving past your trauma, and ‘re-hatching’ as a new healthier and happier version of yourself. The song is cathartic, sad and motivating all at once, a standout of the album. The album ends with Still Alive, a gentle reminder to appreciate life when things are grim. An ode to that rebirth of motivation after a dark period when we want to give up, the track is a beacon of light to close the album. “Fuck love, I give up. I don’t want to give up… I’m still alive”.
Do yourself a favour and stream ‘Paint Me Blue’. Whether you’re in a rough patch now or have just lived through some hard times, let Semantics help you not feel so alone.
With thanks to Deathproof PR + Cooking Vinyl Australia + SideOneDummy