Musically, we live in an age of abundance. Constellations of platforms exist, all able to satisfy the wants of any audience. Rarity is no longer the barrier it once was.
It’s easy to take this for granted. Compare the reach of Bandcamp or Spotify or SoundCloud to the indie releases, bootlegs and mixtapes of old. Even at the turn of the century, when MP3s were rapidly gaining momentum, word of mouth and direct distribution offered the surest means of accessing music way beyond the limits of the mainstream.
The upcoming digital reissue of Living With Eating Disorders’ Superhero EP comes with a history lesson. Its original release (primarily on CD-Rs sold directly to fans at shows) came in 2001, at the very start of the Scottish duo’s story. Off the back of this, Andrea Kerr and Jared Hawkes caught the attention of John Fryer – a producer known for working with acts like Depeche Mode, Cocteau Twins and Nine Inch Nails.
Renamed Colt, Kerr and Hawkes released their debut album These Things Can’t Hurt You Now, So Throw Them in The Fire back in 2005. They’ve contributed to various projects since then, but a remastered release of their debut must be truly heartening for them.
Superhero is a curious title. You may expect something forceful, colourful and exciting. Instead LWED deliver something lo-fi and darkly elegant. It’s also short: frustratingly so personally, because it’s so bewitching and haunting in all the right ways.
Feelings of desolation dominate the landscape of Superhero. “Menace” is a great primer. It’s brooding, unsettling and, well…menacing. It invokes dangers that are, in there own ways, enticing: ‘Like a car crash/You’re exciting/Dangerous to touch,’ and ‘Electricity/Sits inside you/Waiting to fuse.’
“Dark Nevada” is simply beautiful. Though this beauty stems from visions of untouched desert wastes. But rather than scorching sand and blistering heat, this ‘stranger’s land’ that Kerr’s ‘free to roam’ is dark and cold and presided over by ‘The star’s hollow empty forms.’
What’s magical about this track is that it isn’t as depressing as I’ve made it sound. True, it’s not a good time party jam, but it invokes a sense of awe and wonder, with its heavy keys and ever present winds. You don’t have to be a superhero, but only someone possessing superhuman resilience can appreciate the freedom and beauty found in a world so wasted and lost.
Superhero is only the first in a long line of reissues dropping over the coming months. My guess is that they’ll further reveal what I feel is the message at the core of LWED’s work. Pain, fear and loss are not insurmountable. Strength, beauty and hope can always be found; and no matter the odds, you remain the hero in your own story.
The Superhero EP is released on May 1st 2019.
You can find Living With Eating Disorders here: