Inspired by the likes of Biffy Clyro, Kurt Vile, Elliot Smith and Daniel Johnstone, UK-based singer-songwriter Guy Nicholas Challenger is bringing a unique type of folk to contemporary society. Performing under the pseudonym Normal Behaviour, Challenger seeks to share songs about living in the 21st century. Featured on FV Music Blog, Given To Rock and various playlists/online radio stations, Normal Behaviour is reaching audiences across the blogosphere. Today we take a look at his EP Thimble.
Following his self-titled debut EP (read our review here), Thimble is his second release looking at issues of mental health, empowerment, the music industry and toxic relationships. In four tracks, approximately ten minutes, Normal Behaviour uses personal narratives and charming melodies to take you on a journey through existential experiences. As with his previous EP, Challenger adopts an acoustic-inspired style that not only wins your heart but enhances the poignancy of the release.
Opening with the track ‘Mascot’, you are immediately transported to a whimsical world with pinpricks of light. It is interesting as the simplistic melodic arrangement appears to have an effect larger than the minimalist design. What I mean is, while this stripped-back tune uses basic guitar and keys, it allows your soul to soar captivating you entirely.
Moving along to ‘Death Wish’ and ‘Thimble’, Challenger adds a more poignant element to the light-hearted sound. This is by no means removing the soul-soaring quality of his music but lowers the mood raising awareness of the sombre themes. Challenger explains that while ‘Mascot’ is a song to cheer yourself on bad days, ‘Death Wish’ looks at peer pressure, the need to please people and “going with the flow too much until it has a bad effect on your life”. ‘Thimble’ also looks at a bleak but powerful topic as he sings about fighting to be heard within the music industry.
Adopting a more old-school folk-inspired sound, ‘Better’ looks at mental health. With its stark acoustic style, the final track has an intense intimacy increasing the sense of vulnerability. Challenger explains that ‘Better’ “…is about mental health. It’s about being well but knowing that at any moment today may be the day that things start to unwind, and you start to lose control.” Yet, while you may consider the song to be desperate, it does have an empowering chorus where Challenger shares that “…no matter what happens life will come full circle and you’ll someday be well again.”