Hailing from “the less fake-tanned parts of Essex,” Sam Masters glides into indie-psychedelia with his solo project Smotherly Love.
Released in July, the debut single Less Shoulders, More Coping exhibits Masters’ finesse for songwriting, featuring shimmering guitar tones that transition seamlessly into brooding FX-heavy production.
As the track’s title suggests, Less Shoulders, More Coping is an examination of isolation. Confidently asserting an ability to thrive without needing the shoulders of others – “I’m not restless when I’m on my own” – the lyrics carry an air of self-assurance. Nevertheless, the bright guitar and jazzy drums then slope into droning synths and distant cymbal bells after the first verse; we might be hearing a hole in the narrator’s certainty. The word “again…” is repeated, pitched down each time, until the gloom begins to lift with a few discreet funk chords and another seamless transition back to those shimmering guitars.
Following the second verse, a crescendo of distantly soaring guitar tones and cymbals is matched by Masters’ vocals. The bass comes to the fore with a lick that I can only describe as a funky lament, and as the guitars and synths drone out, the song closes with the same gently-pumping drum beat that opened it.
This track is a smooth blend of indie, trip-hop and jazz – regarding the jazz elements, featuring drummer Wayne Thompson’s flow on the hi-hats shouldn’t be left unmentioned. Masters provides a quoted description of the track: “Father John Misty, mid-psychedelic trip”. Indeed, Less Shoulders, More Coping is a captivating trip of psychological ups and downs, which certainly warrants swimming further into Smotherly Love‘s future work. Consider my curiosity piqued.