Skullcrusher, aka singer/songwriter Helen Ballentine, has announced her long-awaited debut album, Quiet the Room, coming Oct. 14 on Secretly Canadian. Lead single “Whatever Fits Together,” out now alongside a music video, is Ballentine’s first release since her acclaimed 2021 EP Storm in Summer.
“Whatever Fits Together” embeds Ballentine’s introspective, aching songwriting in sonic depth and atmosphere, her delicate voice and bright acoustic chords awash in humming reverb. As a banjo arpeggio uplifts the instrumental, Ballentine reflects on choices forgone that therefore became choices made: “Went along with whatever / Thought I knew what I wanted / Never knew what I wanted.” Her plaintive delivery conveys all of the emotion wrapped up in the act of this accounting, as if she’s indicting and forgiving herself at once, simply through the act of attempting to understand. As the song finally falls to pieces, Ballentine chooses the present moment above all else, asking amid ethereal fragments of sound, “If we’re here, does it matter?”
“I wrote ‘Whatever Fits Together’ while reflecting on my past and wondering how I might begin to explain it to someone,” Ballentine recalls in a statement. “I viewed my younger self through a wash of emotions: anger, sadness, pity, confusion, all reaching for a kind of compassion. I tried to capture the contradictions that comprise my past and define who I am now.
“As I looked back, I saw my life in pieces: some moments blacked out, some extremely vivid, some leading nowhere. Through the song I attempt to piece it together in some non-linear form and accept my disparate story.”
“Whatever Fits Together” video creative director Silken Weinberg adds:
The video for “Whatever Fits Together” is a nightmare of phantasmagoria, taking inspiration from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and one of my favorite silent films, Shoes. We felt this song needed a darker atmosphere in order to shed light on its essential message: to address the monsters that exist in the shadows. Aiming to keep it simple, we created a black void and Angela Ricciardi filmed on black-and-white super 8. In the end, it became a series of confrontations.
Prior to last year’s Storm in Summer, Skullcrusher released Places & Plans in 2020, which Paste hailed as one of that year’s best EPs.
Skullcrusher will kick off a handful of North American summer shows with a set at Newport Folk Festival on July 23. After that is a newly added fall run with stops in New York City, Chicago, Toronto, San Francisco and Seattle. Tickets go on sale this Friday, July 22 at 10 a.m. local time.
Watch the “Whatever Fits Together” video and see the details of Quiet the Room below. You’ll find Skullcrusher’s tour dates further down.
Quiet the Room Tracklist:
01. They Quiet the Room
02. Building a Swing
03. Whatever Fits Together
04. Whistle of the Dead
05. Lullaby in February
06. Pass Through Me
07. Could it be the way I look at everything?
08. Outside, playing
09. It’s Like a Secret
11. Window Somewhere
12. (secret instrumental)
13. Quiet the Room
14. You are my House
Skullcrusher Tour Dates:
23 – Newport, RI @ Newport Folk Festival
26 – Portsmouth, NH @ 3S Artspace
27 – Allston, MA @ O’Briens Pub
28 – Winooski, VT @ Winooski Methodist Church
06 – Peekskill, NY @ The Paramount Hudson Valley Theatre
31 – London, UK @ Omeara
02 – Salisbury, UK @ End of the Road Festival
03 – Manchester, UK @ Manchester Psych Fest
17 – Los Angeles, CA @ Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever
11 – Washington, DC @ DC9
12 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s
13 – Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere
15 – Kingston, NY @ Tubby’s
16 – Montréal, QC @ Bar Le ‘Ritz’ P.D.B.
17 – Toronto, ON @ The Garrison
19 – Bloomington, IN @ The Bishop
20 – Chicago, IL @ Sleeping Village
30 – San Francisco, CA @ Cafe Du Nord
02 – Seattle, WA @ Barboza
03 – Portland, OR @ Polaris Hall