Cousin Luke; the project of Meg West (’19), with contributions by Jake Rogers (’19), Sam Dewees (’19), Jack Kraus (’21), Alice Goldberg (’19), and Adam Manson (’19); released a self-titled 4-track EP earlier this month to satisfy the appetite of students hungry for New Wes Sounds. Each track on the EP, which clocks in at a little over 12 minutes total, combines laid-back strumming with memorable hooks and lo-fi charm reminiscent of indie songwriters like (Sandy) Alex G, Snail Mail, and Soccer Mommy.
The first track, “Snooze,” is a melancholy ode to sleeping in that blends an upbeat yet dreamy melody with catchy lyrics like “Wake me so I don’t sleep away / My whole damn life” that are anything but lethargic. Throughout “Snooze,” there is a yearning for change - “Think I’ll pivot now / To diversify” - that is never necessarily acted upon, but the track ends on an uplifting note with a breezy guitar solo.
“Split” continues with the same mid-tempo guitar and the lyrics are vague but evocative, posing questions like “Am I asking for too much?” and “Am I getting greedy?” that contrast the EP’s general quietude. The pleasant melody is strikingly similar to Yo La Tengo’s “My Heart’s Not In It” with its gentle guitar strumming and subtle twang.
Like “Snooze,” “Sick” captures a relatable feeling of grogginess and disillusioned emptiness that becomes increasingly harder to shake off no matter what you do. Cousin Luke really draw on their 90s alt-rock sensibilities in this track, and the song closes with an echoing sound-effect that brings to mind the sound of wind you hear through the window on a cold day when all you want to do is stay inside.
The closing track, “A.D.D.”, copes with these feelings of apathy by instilling a sense of hope. There is an emotional weight and assuredness embedded in the vocals, reflected in firm assertions like “Forget it / I’m off it” and “Shut up / You’re drunk” that add variety to the EP’s hazy vocals. “A.D.D” reminds us that amidst these feelings of malaise, it’s possible to ground yourself and look ahead: “Wherever you go, I won’t follow / Do it on my terms, so why bother?”
The arrangements on Cousin Luke’s self-titled EP are relatively simple, yet each track showcases emotionally eloquent songwriting and a clean tone that is impressive and endearing; the EP is long enough to keep us full, but short enough to keep us wanting more.