Painkiller is the latest release from Dublin native Luke Faulkner, alias PureGrand, and let me tell you synthpop has never felt so good. Combining the beats of the eighties with a modern scope, the entire EP opens a kaleidoscope of emotions, and lets the listener experience queer life and love, even just for a minute.
The EP opens with Last Bus, and the style, beat and content are a direct reference to Shannon’s 1984 hit ‘Give Me The Night’, telling the story of a lover who is tired of playing games but can’t escape that attraction to that certain someone. The chorus echoes the question of what happens after, while a synthesizer beat keeps the listener contained, trapping them in a loop they can’t escape. Trust and attraction are like oil and water, and this is very clearly communicated in this three-minute journey. Both lovers are clearly damaged but the force dragging them together against their will is too great to deny.
Crush encompasses the same themes as Last Bus but from an earlier perspective- Here the idea of power dynamics is brought into play between the lovers, and the intoxicating nature of crushes. The reference to it being a ‘Toxic Friday Night’, and the singers desire to “swallow the faces of our counterparts” add a monstrous, more sinister element to the song, something that remains throughout the song. The constant repetition of the line “Watch your back” really connects the tune to the paranoid classic “Somebodies watching me” released by Rockwell in 1984. The use of the dual vocal tone adds a gendered depth to the midway point to the song, indicating that anyone can be swept under the cloak of a crush.
The final track on the EP ‘Heartburn’ describes a relationship that is doomed to fall apart- a concept that is not new, especially in music but the lyrics and the sound of this track are something refreshing, putting a new, necessary spin on a familiar concept. The references to the artists corporeal form give the song a sensory aspect that others often lack, and it adds to that innate human desire we all possess to dive into something with someone we’re smitten with, especially something that we know will only result in mutually assured destruction. Human weakness stops us, yet our hearts yearn for more like an addict.
Overall, this EP spectacularly shows the reality of being a queer millennial by overlaying the themes with sounds that wouldn’t be out of place in Ryan Murphy’s Emmy nominated POSE, which is an important part of Queer history in its own right. This sort of reverence is one that can be and is often lost on younger generations of queer people, so it’s invigorating to see that our history is still being echoed through modern mediums and reminds us how far we have come. Alongside this, the direct influences from the ‘Gay Sirens’ of the seventies and eighties such as Sylvester and Patrick Cowley make listening to this EP nothing but an aural treat. It doesn’t shy away from showing the dark reality that can occur in situations like these, if anything it embraces the darker side to love and sheds light onto the topics nobody wanted to hear.