Ian McCuen is a self-proclaimed “purveyor of sorrow,” and now may be a better time than ever to introduce his latest offering. For the depressed and the downtrodden, his somber, three-song EP, Seasons Fleeting, is here to queue in the bleak January blues. What better accompaniment to the false optimism of new year resolutions and the passing of the insincere holiday cheer than McCuen’s acoustic-guitar driven laments about the recently passed “most wonderful time of the year.”
Title-track “Seasons Fleeting” is a sleigh-bell tinged ditty about the paradoxical nature of the holidays. Opening line “the tree is covered in twinkling lights” is imagery that directly opposes McCuen’s choice of album cover – a garbage can in a dingy kitchen, wrapped in cheap Christmas lights. Through vibes reminiscent of Bon Iver and Elliot Smith, McCuen gently strums his acoustic guitar and delicately shakes his sleigh bells to describe his hatred of the fleeting seasons. Christmas time makes him feel like shit and it shows.
“New Year, Same Old Me” shows the same amount of disdain for the much-maligned significance of starting a new year as a new person. McCuen knows that the transition from 2018 to 2019 is nothing but a changing number. Resolutions or not, most people are stuck in their ways. After an off-character internal plea for it to “please let this finally be my year,” McCuen ends the song with a countdown from ten – a simple, yet poignant way to progress into track three.
Fittingly, the EP wraps with a glitched-out take on the traditional Scottish folk composition “Auld Lang Syne,” an instantly recognizable new-year anthem. Peppered with sleigh bells, acoustic guitar, lo-fi keyboard blips, and haunting synth pads, McCuen certainly puts his own instrumental spin on things. But more importantly is the song’s traditional message, steeped in nostalgia and eerily on key with the rest of McCuen’s EP… “Should [old] acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?
Seasons Fleeting is available on Bandcamp for a very reasonable price – check it out here.