Can't Keep Up
Shauna Tohill uses the Silhouette moniker to pursue her own musical path – this four-track collection was worth the wait
For the last year or so, the careening, fiendishly catchy single 'Can't Keep Up' by Silhouette has been soundtracking the Discover Northern Ireland TV ad campaign, provoking people from all walks of life to hum, clap and air drum along to the driving rhythm and hook.
The track was a massive mainstream breakthrough for the Magherafelt-born, but Belfast-based, Shauna Tohill. Having spent the past five years performing with the likes of Angelfall, Poet's Pocket Symphony, Rams' Pocket Radio and Joe Echo, the multi-instrumentalist has certainly deserved her shot as a solo artist. In May 2013, she releases her long-awaited Can't Keep Up EP.
Aided and abetted as always with a revolving cast of musicians, friends and like-minded artists, Tohill's vision circa 2013 is assured, stately, grandiose and grown up. Comprising four tracks, the mini-opus sees Silhouette at the peak of her powers. It is every bit as good as, if not better than, the sublime piece of alt-pop that was her first single, 'Volume Destroyed', with Tohill truly blossoming as a frontwoman and creative force.
The EP opens with a re-worked, re-imagined version of 'Can't Keep Up' (the video above is a former version), it having been dissected and unravelled then stitched back together. Now it features a slower, more moody tempo, some suitably triumphant trumpets and swelling strings. Less manic and jittery than version 1.0 (which is included on the EP as a bonus track), this altered incarnation of her best-known song offers some new flavours to the Silhouette sound.
'Toss It Up' starts with a stark strummed acoustic guitar, before kicking in to a chiming chorus which, strange as it may sound, calls to mind the refrain from Papa Roach's 'Getting Away With Murder', only faster and with a pop polish. It develops into a piano-based number, which has an ace mid-section that's reminiscent of some of the mellower moments on the Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness.
'Put The Silence On Hold' is the real star of the show, however, an unflinchingly emotive ballad that in an ideal world will establish Silhouette on the global stage. It's the type of track that seems destined to have a huge cross-over appeal, a starry-eyed, tear-stained track that boasts a beautiful vocal full of passion and purity. Possibly Silhouette's best musical moment to date, it taps a similar vein to some of Snow Patrol's more anthemic songs, and is worth the price of admission alone.
'Running Against The Wall' finishes the EP in dark fashion, with drum loops, electric guitars and a more aggressive vocal style the order of the day. If there are any criticisms to be made, it's that Can't Keep Up is over all too soon. An extra song certainly wouldn't have gone amiss. However, with cuts like 'Put The Silence On Hold' in their arsenal, Silhouette are sure to cast a large shadow on the Northern Ireland music scene this year. I can't wait to hear a full album.