Rising Liverpool quartet Clean Cut Kid have enjoyed a whirlwind of success since releasing their debut single “Vitamin C” in June. The indie rockers, whose slick pop-infused stylings call to mind the likes of HAIM and The Shins, have nabbed a headlining spot on Reading & Leeds’ Introducing stage, received countless spins on BBC Radio 1, and earned a Top 10 place on Spotify’s Viral Chart. To top things thing off, they’ve lined up a UK tour alongside CoSigned synthpop artist Shura.
Despite the praises and media attention, Clean Cut Kid have managed to stay grounded and connected to their roots the last few months, and it shows in the lyrical content of their follow-up singles. “Runaway”, which dropped in early September, talks about student debt — an unglamorous, but very real nightmare of a problem for young people everywhere. “It’s a song about feeling beaten before you’ve even started the race, and that moment when you realize that there are just some things you’ll never escape,” singer Mike Hall told Noisey of the track.
“Jean”, the UK outfit’s latest offering and the B-side to “Runaway”, was also born from personal events, serving as a tribute to Halls’ late grandmother. “Jean was my nan: a gigantic character with the sharpest wit and one of those boss, bone-dry Scouse dispositions,” Hall explains to Consequence of Sound. “When she died a few years ago, the whole family lost its North Star: none more than my granddad Jimmy.”
He adds, “All of a sudden he seemed two feet shorter, and that famous sparkle in his eye was gone. ‘Jean’ (the song) is me trying to put into words what I could see he was feeling. Even if nobody outside my family gets it, just the fact that someone somewhere might be singing her name long after she’s gone will be enough.”
On the track, Clean Cut Kid do just that — invoking the name Jean gracefully but also with a yearning ache. “Jean, won’t you find me?” they often ask, their voices rising and falling over a sparse wash of percussion, as though they’re offering their own private meditation or prayer. Listen in below.
A 7-inch featuring “Runaway” and “Jean” is due out on October 23rd via Babe Magnet Records/Polydor.