Leeds five-piece Van Houten are back with another daze of gentle guitars and lonely hearts lyrics. They are often described as slacker pop, a term that risks overlooking the dedication to craft that results in such effortless discography. 'Now & Then' – the second cut from the forthcoming EP Home Alone Pt. 2 – is another guitar-laden dreamscape; a fitting addition to a summery Hyde Park evening.
A track built on a foundation of laid back drums, 'Now & Then' makes notable use of bossa nova tinged acoustic guitar strums. Whilst not heavy in a rock or metal sense, there is weight to the song, provided by a collective sigh of guitars as the chorus jangles into life. With lead songwriter Louis Sadler almost speaking rather than singing, he creates a certain intimacy while relaying troubling lyrics of a less-than-healthy relationship. “You’re always hurting me, but it hurts worse when you leave,” he pines during one stripped back verse.
On first listen, these lyrics seem at odds with the tranquillity of the music. 'Now & Then' is about loneliness and a willingness to be hurt in a relationship, despite the consequences. Van Houten have created a vastness, though, that’s easy to get lost and feel alone in; the lead melody is more of a constellation, with sparse guitar notes coming together to form a whole. It’s subtle, but it’s enough to tie these initially separate elements together.
Though 'Now & Then' doesn’t hit the heights reached on previous EP Home Alone, it sees Van Houten venture into new territory, incorporating South American influences into their signature style for a tune that’s both identifiable and fresh. Its accompanying video is inspired by another destination altogether, featuring greenscreens and sunglasses aplenty. We won’t have to wait long to see where Van Houten’s next bout of inspiration comes from; Home Alone Pt. 2 is out next month.
Now & Then is out now on Clue Records
Home Alone Pt. 2 is due for release on September 10th
Words by Eddie Smith