Listening to Nick Ward’s music feels like having a heartfelt conversation with a close friend - soft vocals and personal lyrics reflect rawness, lively instrumentals imitate the laughter and tenderness in such moments. In his debut EP, Everything I Wish I Told You, the Sydney-based artist creates a marvellous mixture of teenage vulnerability, diversified indie soundscapes, and refreshing lyricism.
The EP is meant to be listened to chronologically, taking listeners on a dreamy, pop-infused journey through Nick’s psyche. Launching with ‘Overture’, a mellow guitar overlays audio from home videos. Immediately themes of youth and nostalgia flood first impressions of the record. When Nick’s vocals begin, the beat heightens and becomes wistfully cinematic, symbolising an acceptance and embrace of the self that has come with age (‘I don’t ever wanna change but I don’t wanna stay the same’). This element of self-acceptance is omnipresent within Nick’s music. One of the most defining aspects of his sound, which is especially invoked in EIWITY, is Nick’s painting of insecurity as something to simultaneously embrace and overcome.
Especially applicable to 2020 lockdowns, ‘FMF!’ is a track that odes to the dread of both mundanity and apathy (‘I spend the day in bed/ Wake up do it all again’). In Nick Ward fashion, an upbeat tempo juxtaposes lyrics that are entwined with truth and angst (‘Feeling low/ I’m feeling dead/ Fuck a job/ And fuck my friends’). ‘Refreshing’ would be the most accurate definition for this track. Where charts are filled with nonsensical lyrics and one-hit-wonder beats, this song is both energetic and relatable.
‘Holding the Man’ is my favourite track on the EP. The title is derived from Timothy Conigrave’s LGBT memoir and adapted film, though is also a reference for a transgression in AFL. Fittingly, the track mocks heteronormative society’s grasp on masculinity (‘I’ll get married when I’m thirty, maybe even thirty-two/ Have my own place/ Have a kid or two/ Picket fence/ Swimming pool/ Baby, I’m the man’). The pop beat softens the hard-hitting lyrics alluding to Nick’s coming-out experience (‘I came out in my best friend’s car/ And now I’m weightless’). The song fades out with the audio from Nick’s home videos, symbolising the lifelong odyssey of finding yourself.
Catching a breath in the middle, ‘My Own Private Interlude’ seeks fragments from other songs, like the angelic choir in ‘I Wanna Be Myself or Nothing At All’ and fuzzy home video, mixed with a cinematic, synth-infused background.
‘I Wanna Be Myself or Nothing At All’ is the perfect follow-up to the interlude. This track summarises the EP as a whole - it is sonically emotional through dulcet guitar strings and sombre piano, and lyrically personal and brave. Imbued with tones of sexuality, identity, friendship and insecurity, this track demonstrates the way Nick intertwines art and reality.
The EP has its resolution with ‘Aubrey Plaza’, an acoustic impersonation to the likes of Elliott Smith. It plays like a slow-moving, indie-pop track to listen to when staring out of a train window, taking everything in. The title references actress Aubrey Plaza, suggesting the notion of pretending, something Nick seeks to dissect and analyse (‘Do you know who you are? Or do you just take a guess?’).
After listening to the EP in its entirety, there comes this overwhelming atmosphere of intimacy. Nick Ward pours his heart into his music, and you can sense as a listener that he documents the deepest areas of himself. EIWITY isn’t an EP to play on repeat and eventually get sick of, but rather like a favourite film, one to come back to every once in a while so as to preserve its sheer specialness.
Everything I Wish I Told You by Nick Ward is available to stream everywhere now.
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