The outfit was formed by neuroscientist & songwriter Harrison Wood Hsiang, uniting under a single name a differing collective of musicians and artists across his own connections. The band made its debut with the nine-track Only When It’s Dark, two years back in 2019. When they perform live, Hsiang is joined by frequent collaborators Mike Nunziante, Brendan Ronan, Max Shashoua, and Gloria Breck
Their latest track, and the topic for this review, is a song that Hsiang sees as one that’s often mistaken for a romantic serenade. It’s not hard to imagine why from a cursory listen without paying attention. A beautiful duet, shifting between female and male vocals often tends to give away that image. But in reality, ‘Creature Comforts’ is a bit darker.
Hsiang says: “When I wrote “Creature Comforts”, I was thinking a lot about the post-relationship double standard around hooking up — if you do it, it’s just to get your mind off things; when your ex does it, it’s betrayal. It’s an ugly, jealous thought and one that’s occupied a lot of space in my mind. I don’t want to be a possessive person. “Creature Comforts” is my way of exploring those concerns.“
It’s so nuanced and well written I couldn’t help but replay it over and over again while reflecting on my own personal journeys. The subtle production, characterised by melancholic keys and distinctively folk strings, is a beautiful soundscape for the ensuing vocal duet.
Lines like “that I am yours and yours alone“, “it’s kind of nice to be selfish”, and “or I could sleep with someone new and know an empty satisfaction now“are so perfectly descriptive of a toxic relationship that still holds that endearing energy of affection underneath the more possessive feelings.
It threw me back to singles by one of my favourite duos, “The Oh Hellos”. As the song progresses towards its final act, the duet grows more grandiose as they harmonise together to sing “you are mine and mine alone, don’t you forget it.”
So yes, on the outset, this may seem like an endearing love song. But deep down, it’s more revealing to the toxicities and possessiveness that love throws onto us. Creature Comforts is a lyrical gem with absolutely magnificent production alongside it. I can’t get enough, and neither should you.