Conn Thornton, Meteorite Season review

June 17, 2024

Belfast-based composer and musician Conn Thornton has released their third LP Meteorite Season, two and a half years following their sophomore record Tragedy. In the time between records, Thornton’s new music shows that they have proliferated their soundscapes whilst maintaining core themes of the importance of connection as seen in their previous work. Conn’s alternative indie stylings live on but have become part of a wider palette of inspiration boosted by more musical and life experience.

The album opener ‘Inferno’ feels like an epilogue to the Foo Fighters’ classic ‘Everlong’, wherein the initial burst of heartbreak is being soothed by friends in the wee hours of the morning. The lyrical element of the song is a voice note conversation between Thornton and two of their friends, chatting mainly about Dante’s Inferno.

‘I Believe in You’, one of the record’s lead singles, is a slow-burning ode to a friend in crisis. Thornton encapsulates this person through small, joyful memories, hoping this friend can come to see themselves less negatively. Within this person’s darkest moments, they still exist in Conn’s mind as a positive figure, whether that be in carefree dances to The Smiths or through their late-night chats with Thornton. It’s a song bolstered by a sense of hope and care.

‘Georgia O’Keefe’ offers the listener a different sonic palette, one with bare nylon string guitar in a record which up until this stage has been largely soaked by electric guitar and reverb. Thornton takes us to a more barren landscape – opening the song with an ominous, solo nylon guitar progression in the stylings of early Sun Kil Moon records to express emotional absence and the sense of something missing in their life.

‘The Disappearing Act’ takes us to new places again through its clear inspiration in sophisticated beats and slick synths of Bristol’s ‘trip hop’ scene – a city where Thornton lived for some time. The whole track’s heritage lies with the likes of Massive Attack and Portishead.

‘An Invincible Summer’ introduces the second half of the record, and with-it darker notes akin to Ethel Cain and Deftones. The looming threat of heavy guitar lies low in the mix alongside some dreamy vocal arrangements and low, brooding piano tones.

The instrumental title track ‘Meteorite Season’ once again draws on Ethel Cain’s juxtaposing sounds of warmth and subtle terror. It feels as if it was composed to accompany the reading of a Southern Gothic, à la Flannery O’Connor. ‘Meteorite Season’ consists entirely of solo piano and light vocal harmonies – it is poignant and delicate but belongs in a barren, dark landscape: keeping anti-heroes company as they stumble around making mistakes and life-altering discoveries. The song provides the space the listener needs to digest the heavy themes Conn has presented to us so far. As a standout track on the record, it is emotive, complex and a testament to Thornton’s talents as a pianist and composer.

On the final track of the record, ‘Blood Split the Atom’, we return to the voice note of the first track and its chord progression, except with a thicker guitar sound, slower more contemplative tempo. Lyrics tell of looking up at the night sky and back towards the special people in Thornton’s lives. There is a sense of both wonder and adoration – the infinite night sky and the people that surround Thornton hold beauty and mystery in equal measure. The song, and album, unravels gloriously into a hypnotic, repetitive, four-minute instrumental outro that builds in a way reminiscent of the legendary track ‘Transatlanticism’ by Death Cab for Cutie.

Meteorite Season is an ode to all forms of connection – this dynamic collection of songs holds a bittersweet reverence for both the consistent and fleeting relationships in Thornton’s life. The record recognises that both are a part of what makes the human experience so rich and slightly terrifying – and mirrors these feelings in the record’s varied sonic tones.

The album title itself is emotive, but also incredibly relevant as an allegory for ephemeral connections that dazzle and fade in the same instant, leaving scorching marks of white heat behind. On their third LP, Thornton successfully captures these wondrous, sometimes inexplicable moments, throwing them up into the stars and asking us to take a moment and look up above for answers, too.

Eleanor Gilmore

Meteorite Season is Out Now. Conn will be playing an album launch gig at the Sunflower, Belfast, with support from Cathal Francis on Friday 21 June. Tickets here.


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