I’ve always naturally drifted towards people with drive. The guys, girls and everything in between who “want it.” Whatever “it” is doesn’t particularly matter, but the “want” is paramount. The people who have a restless drive to get up and go after stuff, the people who are as in love with the hard work as they are with the results. It’s what drew me initially to Danny McClelland, aka Pascalwillnotsurvivethis.
A veteran of the North Coast scene, a constant presence in local music and one of the hardest smart workers I have ever met, McClelland was one of the forerunners to pick up the reins following And So I Watch You From Afar’s departure into the stratosphere. Now, he returns to the helm with his own solo project, flush with experience touring in Jealous Of The Birds, once again donning the persona of Pascal with his debut EP, ‘Lost At Sea’
McClelland’s debut comes under a moniker that he devised in 2016. Speaking with our own Aaron Cunningham, Pascal was revealed to be “an exotic / hipster dude who lives in a boat, recording music off his phone whilst listening to surf rock.” Clearly, the boat imagery stuck, but ‘Lost At Sea’ is more than a callback. Joined by members of Mosmo Strange and Annas Number, the Irish rockers first released effort tackles depression, mental illness, isolation and feeling generally adrift in one of the years more personal, touching and enjoyable releases. Having abandoned surf rock to the breach, his blend of pop-punk, alternative and folk is a curious one that works gloriously. Artistically and spiritually large, while rooted firmly in McClelland musical heritage, the EP’s brilliance lies in its ease of access. From the delightful dual vocal chorus of ‘Jeff’ to the addictive hook’s of ‘Hey, Bud’ ‘Lost At Sea’ has all the trappings of a fully formed album without the run time. Recognisable, warm and empathetic, McClelland and co. look poised to capitalise on something special.
And yet, despite its short run time, those who take a closer look at the tracks can see the stress lines in them. McClelland has long been vocal of his affinity with the late Scott Hutchison (Frightened Rabbit) and it is easy to see comparisons in their song writing. ‘Hey, Bud’ with its jolly riffs and sing-a-long chorus, tackles the failure of friendship groups to notice depression, while ‘I Thought I Saw What Looked Like Treetops’ has a haunting creak mixed in with its psychedelic indie folk composition. This restlessness is what fuels the mood of this EP and gives it its emotional gravity, a wanderlust of spiritual proportions that is criminal for you not to align yourself with. Aching, ragged, worn and familiar, Pascalwillnotsurvivethis manage to hit every important emotional note in just three tracks. An impressive debut for one of Northern irelands most exciting new groups.
Full disclosure: Danny and myself have a personal and professional relationship