two blinks, i love you: It’s a name; a phrase; a story. Liverpool’s Liam Brown opens up about his new indie folk-leaning music project and dives into his debut ‘ep 1,’ a beautifully breathtaking record full of love, light, honesty, and intimacy.
Stream: “i love you” – two blinks, i love you
He’s unapologetically sincere and gorgeously organic, but perhaps the best way to describe Liam Brown’s new project is simply, a hopeless romantic singer/songwriter wearing his whole heart on his sleeve. two blinks, i love you: It’s a name; a phrase; an action; a story. A whole world comes to life within these five words alone – one that grows ever-larger, and more intimate, as we listen to his music, which by and large bears that same warmth, weight, and wonder. A tender indie folk record full of love, light, honesty, and intimacy, two blinks, i love you’s aptly-titled ep 1is a radiant introduction that’s as utterly charming as it is beautifully breathtaking.
There’s just one thing, I love you
There’s just one thing, I love you
And it tears me up
To be honest to me and someone
And it tears me up
To be honest to me and someone
– “i love you,” two blinks, i love you
Released June 2, 2023 via Heist or Hit, ep 1 is a dazzling debut – but it’s also a reintroduction to an artist many indieheads already know and love. Previously making music under the name pizzagirl, Liverpool-based singer/songwriter Liam Brown built a strong following through his colorful, decidedly left-of-center bedroom pop music. He released two EPs (2018’s an extended play and season 2) and two albums (2019’s first timer and 2021’s softcore mourn) over the past five years, and received acclaim from the likes of Pitchfork, The Independent, The Evening Standard, The Line of Best Fit, and more in the process.
“While a lot of artists’ music can focus on introspection and feelings, Brown’s songs take him all over the world,” Atwood Magazine‘s Nicole Almeida wrote of pizzagirl back in 2019. “On his debut album, [he] travels from Broadway, to Venice, to Maine, to the aisles of a grocery store… first timer is a scrapbook, a collection of memories and stories – fictional and real – which together become a solid, fun, and unique debut album.”
Saying goodbye to pizzagirl wasn’t an easy decision for Brown to come to – reintroducing yourself is a hell of a lot more difficult than pivoting an already existing project’s sound – but it was the right choice as he found himself moving in a new direction.
“I think I was starting to feel a bit over pizzagirl towards the latter part of the last album,” Brown tells Atwood Magazine in conversation. “I think starting the project so young and going through a lot of life changes and sonic changes and style changes, it felt like I was moving further and further away to what that represented. I was very nervous about coming to that conclusion, but as soon as the plans were in motion it felt exactly the right thing for me to do.”
two blinks, i love you debuted late last year with “i love you,” a gentle outpouring of raw emotion and radiant, tempered indie rock filled with passion and purpose. “Between a catchy, shoegaze-y alternative guitar pattern that instantly recalls the likes of Goo Goo Dolls and Blur, and his own hot-on-the-mic, intimate whisper-like singing, Brown captivates and enchants on a song that proves as catchy as it is cathartic,” Atwood Magazine wrote upon its release, adding the track to our 81st Editor’s Picks.
Brown slogged through a litany of titles for his new project before finding two blinks, i love you. “It’s relating to a passing in my life and the phrase is a reworking of something that is synonymous with that person and experience,” he explains. “I had it written down for a long time before it was a name and I sat with a lot of other very hollow empty name ideas, but as soon as I remembered that it felt like it complemented the world I wanted to make, so I’m really happy people think it’s a nice name!”
And then there’s the music itself: Brown calls ep 1 a romantic record – one that doesn’t shy away from electronic elements, but all the while stays rooted to a sound that is far more organic, authentic, and natural than that of his previous project.
“The songs on this record span probably the last 18 months of my life, some written a few months ago, some written beyond that,” Brown reflects. “It was originally going to be recorded elsewhere but as I was figuring out the sound at home it made more sense to stick with that environment and hopefully improve on production and mixing skills in the process, which I think has definitely happened. It was a big learning experience for me as I spent time along refining these songs. I really wanted the palette of this record to show the different sides of what I want the sound to be moving forward.”
“It felt direct and it wasn’t anything conceptual, almost like a stamp on this record of it being as real as possible and grounded to the world rather than some whimsical name or random idea, to be honest not much thought went into the name I just wanted it to be clear and concise, I don’t think you can get more clear than that!”
He adds, “I’d like to hope that this EP opens people up to a sound that is very grounded and organic, there are moments of electronic parts on this but it’s still very much weaved into a very authentic natural sound, which is super important I think for the whole landscape of two blinks. Even with the videos I’ve made I still wanted them to feel like it was coming from me and personal and intimate and I hope it translates.”
ep 1 opens with “carnegie hall,” a catchy, Shins-y slacker-pop song that sets the tone with vibrant energy and visceral lyricism. “Don’t exaggerate your own despair,” Brown sings, his vocals and guitar sharing the same spirited, rollicking melody. “You’d need a guillotine to cut your hair. Soft teeth and some formaldehyde, I heard about a girl at school that died.” Instantly he paints a world full of as much emotional feeling and intent as it has sonic texture and tenderness:
Don’t exaggerate your own despair
You’d need a guillotine to cut your hair
Soft teeth and some formaldehyde
I heard about a girl at school that died
It shook to me to a mortal core
A perspective that I crave once more
That I crave once more…
Well, I don’t think it’s very fair to say
That I’m a victim of somebody’s second chance for me
‘Cause I had a dream that you were on the wall
At Carnegie Hall
“’carnegie hall’ encompasses all the elements of two blinks I had in my mind when starting this project,” Brown shared upon the track’s release back in February. “Production-wise I wanted to stay true to the feelings and motivations I had going in. This was to keep everything in the real world for the listener as best as I could – embracing and encouraging the imperfections in my recording and performance, and also collaborating to achieve that if necessary. This song is an example of that in terms of collaboration – my good friend Rachel Dover joins me on this song to play violin. This really lifted the vision I had for this song in its demo stage.”
The second track on the record, “i love you” remains a dreamy, dazzling, and downright beautiful part of two blinks, i love you’s burgeoning repertoire, but it’s truly one of five songs that all sizzle and sparkle in their own special ways.
Brown’s personal favorite is the EP’s third track “loveseat,” a gentle giant that rises from humble acoustic beginnings into a vibrant indie folk storm as he dwells in the depths of his own sepia-toned past.
I left you soaking in the bleach
Not even the law
Could have seen what I saw
I will not bore you
With the details of it all
You threw a party with a catch
We were on the loveseat, vaseline
I know you know, what I need
I’ll spare the details of it all
“Lyrically, I’d like to think it’s about the tiny parts of a relationship that once it’s ended become obsessed over in some nostalgic romanticised capacity, even if at the time it wasn’t particularly a good memory,” he notes. “I also pay my respects to my first early internet experience – ‘chocolate rain.’ Finding that at that age and time is still really nostalgic for me, so I think it kind of bled into other areas of my life to look back on rather than just specifically relationships.”
“Finishing ‘loveseat’ and initially not thinking much of it, to then going back to the song and fleshing it out was really a nice moment for me, and the label, I think, during the recording,” he adds. “I think that song now has became a highlight on the record and I really love the way it sounds and feels with the instrumentation and production, which I fine-tuned quite a lot over the months of being a bit unsure about how it should sound. ‘Carnegie Hall’ kind of felt the same way – they are songs I go back to and listen to and feel proud of.”
Those two songs contain Brown’s favorite lyrics as well. “I think one of my favourite lyrics on this EP is in ‘carnegie hall,’ I like the line, “Don’t exaggerate your own despair, you’d need a guillotine to cut your hair.” It makes me laugh a bit just to maybe stop once in a while and go, “Am I actually as sad as I feel I am, or am I just selfish?” There’s a lyric in the song ‘loveseat’ about watching ‘chocolate rain’ – that has a special place for me, too!”
ep 1‘s finale, a duet with fellow Scouse singer/songwriter Poppy Shrimpton, is utterly enchanting – an achingly beautiful ending to an endlessly intimate 24-minute adventure that takes us deep into the artist’s psyche. Despite hearing so much of his music over the past five years, this really feels like a full-on reintroduction to Liam Brown. He’s previously described two blinks, i love you as “the sound of introspection,” and darn if the slipper doesn’t fit perfectly. The aching emotions at the heart of this deeply vulnerable music speak to an artistry, and really a human being, giving his full self over to every song.
“I hope that people can take away a lot of similar feelings regarding love and loss and trying to figure out what that all means,” Brown shares. “I still don’t exactly know myself, you can make a lot of foolish choices and actions in your 20s and I 100% have had my fair share of those. Trying to put them into a record to kind of unpack them or figure out who i am as a person is very important so if people can connect to that in some way then that’s a big win for me.”
Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside two blinks, i love you’s ep 1 with Atwood Magazine as Liam Brown goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of his latest release!
Stream: ‘ep 1’ – two blinks, i love you
:: Inside ep 1 ::
Carnegie hall however is I think the oldest song on the EP, I wrote it just as I had moved into a new flat, I think I’d watched Garden State, the film with Zach Braff and Natalie Portman. I was rinsing ‘new slang’ by the shins and kind of wanted to make my own answer to that, subconsciously or consciously I don’t know. It’s definitely one of my favourites. I’m really happy with the way it ended up sounding.
i love you
I love you was written about 1 month or so before we were planning to announce to end of pizzagirl and start of two blinks. I think we originally had Carnegie hall in mind for the first single, but I think I love you felt a bit more immediate and encompassing of the sonic and visual palette of the band.
There’s a bit of a theme on reflecting on these songs of forgetting how much I enjoyed them after revisiting them in old folders on my computer, this was another one I felt that way about. I felt like hook wise it had something quite interesting but I think the session was so messy and disjointed that I couldn’t find the motivation to revisit the song with fresh ears. I think something must have changed my perspective to just knuckle down and work on it and I’m really glad that I did. It ended up being another one of my favourites and I think captures like the mundane romantic instances in my life that I lose sight of at times.
This is another old one. It wasn’t a song that I had particularly championed in the selection process of demos to send to the label, but I’d came across the session file randomly and forgot how much I liked the song, it felt quite simple and direct and sparse and it was something that indirectly fitted perfectly into the sound of this EP.
tarpaulin winter sail
I can’t take really much credit for how this song ended up on the ep, I was having a really uneventful day in work on reception and had my guitar with me and wrote this fairly throwaway and put it on my pizzagirl Instagram, my friend Poppy Shrimpton sent me a message saying about adding some harmonies over it and a couple of weeks later, she sent me a version of the song with her voice and I was really moved by it. I wanted to put it out right then and there but I’m glad I waited for it to be on this record. Her voice is perfect for this song so it was quite serendipitous.
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© Kate Davies
:: Stream two blinks, i love you ::