Album Review: Simulation Ride // Merpire

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If you’re familiar with fantasy genres you might associate the term ‘merpire’ with a creature which is part mermaid and part vampire, rather than the Australian rising indie pop talent Merpire. Just as the fantastical creature combines the beautiful with the haunting, Merpire melds together the gentle with the abrasive in her monumental and mesmerising debut album Simulation Ride. 

Unafraid to embrace the duality of both her experiences and her sound, Merpire describes her debut as “a musical diary entry into the workings and not-workings of my mind… I take you through the rom-com and horror sections of my internal video store”. An apt description as the tracklist weaves from invigorating and moody alt-pop rock tunes like ‘Brain Cells’ to gentler folk-infused tracks such as ‘Easy’. Often, the songs melt from one genre to another within the span of the track, ‘Dinosaur’ in particular seamlessly transitioning from folk-esque pop into an intense rock-permeated instrumental alongside raw vocals. The undulations of sound apparent throughout the album not only indelibly marks Merpire as an incredibly exciting rising talent but also displays her musical prowess.

An electric and eclectic glimpse into the brilliant mind of Merpire, Simulation Ride sees her take seemingly ordinary events and place a kaleidoscopic lens over them, fragmenting the mundane into vividly beautiful stories supported by genre-fluid musicality. In particular, rousing opening track ‘Village’ perfectly encapsulates this skill as Merpire spins observations of symbiotic relationships between birds and insects into an intense and emotive narrative exploring the realisation you can’t be everything and everyone to one person. ‘Village’ opens with steady percussion and strums of guitars before her distinctive vocals begin. The subtle opening gradually leads the audience into Merpire’s world as the texture builds up around the listener and they are finally fully immersed in her musicality in the chorus featuring magnificent shredding guitars and roaring vocals.

Just as she sparked inspiration from symbiosis in nature, the Aussie has mastered a similar equilibrium within her music. Tracks ‘Lately’ and ‘Heavy Feeling’ see Merpire expertly balance ferocity with tranquility; she never allows the instrumental to overwhelm the delicate verses nor the powerhouse choruses to diminish the musicality as the songs ebb and flow with fiery passion. Meanwhile, instrumental tracks like ‘Sink Interlude’ showcase her originality and daring as she explores more discordant, experimental sounds. The shortest song on the album, ‘Sink Interlude’ features ethereal and eerie vocals floating over spooky slow drawn out synth chords, creating a thrilling sensation of the otherworldly.

Throughout the album, there is an undercurrent of defiance, strength and resolve to battle against the feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt and anxiety. Even in the softer and poignant track “Easy’, Merpire doesn’t lose her shimmering strength as she huskily sings “I’m not giving up easy / you’re not the only one who completes me” over folksy strumming acoustic guitars. The strength that Merpire has gained from facing her struggles head on is mirrored beautifully in her sound; every single song on the album is imbued with a calm, collected confidence as Merpire pushes against the confines of genre borrowing elements from rock, pop and alternative music to craft her own unique and captivating sound. 

Simulation Ride is undeniably a stellar debut. Merpire’s exhibition of siren-esque vocals and signature versatile style not only sees her living up to her mythological namesake but has her fans eternally clamouring for more. 

Words by Ella McLaren


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