Album Review: nyck – Alive (2017 EP)

There’s always something impressive about melancholic music. While it’s definitely not the most upbeat and joyous moods and genres to be in, the modesty, honesty and heart-wrenching nature of the music is what makes it so relatable to so many people; irrespective of their demographic. And here on the debut EP of nyck you’re more than likely to find something you’re going to connect with; no matter what holistic state you’re in.

The first time I heard nyck I was driving back over the Blue Mountains on a cold October morning last year. I was on my way back from a wedding in the middle of nowhere, severely hungover and frankly not in the best state. Whilst doing my best to lower the body temperature and smash down oh so precious electrolytes, the haunting vocals of both Nick Acquroff and Dominique Garrard, on their track “Decision”, filled the speakers of my car. It was equal parts haunting and beautiful. Despite my state, I knew I was onto something special.

Here on their EP Alive, nyck have stuck with the aural quality and depressive tones that first made me appreciate such beautiful music. On “Decision”, nothing more than piano and light percussion (you’d imagine it could be as simple as claps or finger clicks in a live setting) is used as the soundtrack. This lack of instrumentation is what allows their vocals to truly stand out. Acquroff’s vocals sit somewhere between Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and Jack Ladder, while Garrard is a little reminiscent of Elena Tonra of Daughter or Missy Higgins. Either way, you quickly realise the vocals of nyck are what will draw you in.

Opening track “Speak My Mind” tells a tales of hope and loss, with a tinge of regret. Outlining the breakdown/ rekindling of a relationship, it’s the raw nature of the track that allows you to connect with the track. It must have been a pretty heavy period in Acquroff and Garrard’s respective lives if they’ve managed to come up with the content for “Speak My Mind”.

“Resident” once more focuses on the strengths of the vocals, while keeping the instrumentation to a bare minimum. There’s a slight urgency through out the track’s run that never really culminates in anything, but that doesn’t really matter in the scheme of the EP. The hopeful and upbeat “This Might Be My Year” is the pinnacle of the release. Apart from the obvious optimism of the title, the gradual rise in tempo and increased use of piano and percussion is what sets “This Might Be My Year” apart from the rest of Alive.

The Garrard led “Summer Inside” closes out the EP, with its format and stylisation following much of the same course the rest of Alive followed. For a first up release, nyck have already hit their stride as a duo. While most of the tracks are quite similar in what they’re offering, this doesn’t take away from the simple beauty nyck have created on each of the five songs. It may leave you an emotional mess, but it’s at least from the heart, so all in all, that isn’t the worst.

Review Score: 8.2 out of 10.

Alive is out now.