Lebanese shoegaze trio Postcards released their second album this year and it’s a dreamy, droney stunner with moments of great beauty and drama. We asked singer Julia Sabra to take us on a tour of its wide expanses and dark corners track by track.
This is one of the tracks that we all wrote together during one of the practices. We’d been getting into slowcore and loved the idea of a heavy funeral march type of song. The lyrics were inspired by that mood – I’ve recently been reading/watching a lot of South American and Japanese literature/movies where surrealist elements make their way into realistic settings and they are not really the centre of the plot. So the lyrics are very much inspired by that – it’s a night walk back to my house, a genuine description of everything around it, but told through a slightly surrealist lens.
The first track we wrote for this album, right after our first full-length came out, and it’s one of those tracks that had like 5 different versions before we settled on this one. There’s a lot of underlying tension in the music. Initially it started out as a way to talk about my anger issues, how in a matter of minutes everything turns sour, how it all fades within a couple of hours, and the inevitability of the whole cycle. Eventually as I was writing and re-writing it, the song shifted towards more of a shared anger about the living situation in Lebanon – the feeling of wanting to fight but also knowing you won’t be able to change anything.
We feel like this is one of our angrier songs, even though the recording is pretty laid back, but live it becomes this angsty pop track. The idea sparked after I witnessed a conversation between (male) friends about the limits of feminism. I wanted to say so much but I was so angry I just went mute. In a way, it’s the underlying sentiment of the album, much like ‘Fossilized’ – it’s really how we feel about everything – either fight and scream to no avail or just force ourselves to turn a blind eye so we can attempt to cope.
AT HOME / THE GOOD SOLDIER
The title track was initially written one late night on just guitar, and we decided to add synths and these little layers during the recording. It’s built like an old folk song, the ones we grew up listening to, and it’s really about saying – there you go, relationships are hard, friendships are hard, don’t take people for granted, make the effort, fight the good fight or there’s no point to anything. All these milestones you think will make you happy won’t work.
Much of the theme of the album is the idea of home as an ‘unsafe’ safe space from the world, so we wanted to have some real snippets of what home sounded like – at least for us. ‘At Home’ is made of actual recordings of my house at different times of the day, superimposed and played through a tape.
We were stuck on those chords for a while, and eventually decided to have a shoegazey feel to the song without having it really explode. It’s the best example of our ‘contained’ shoegaze.
This one is about coming to terms with our childhoods and how our priorities are inevitably changing.
This was a real challenge to write and arrange. We had so many different versions of it, until our producer Fadi suggested we approach it as a drone track, but with elements of a pop song – so you have verses, riffs, lead lines etc but they’re all constructed in a way that keeps repeating with variations and those layers appearing and disappearing. Similar to ‘Dead End’, the vocals/melodies follow the same logic of the music: since it was based on loops, I based the lyrics on the internal ‘loops’ that happen in my mind, that feeling when you get stuck on a negative thought and you can’t get out of it. It’s a description of a walk (again!) down to the sea and realizing that I Iived 5 min away from it but I could never really enjoy it – there are barely any public beaches, most of the shore is illegally privatized and entrances are expensive, and the country feels like an unfixable mess.
The most fun for us is writing those very poppy songs with noise drones in the background. And it’s one of the few actual love songs I think we ever wrote. It’s an ode – not to the usual ‘milestone’ moments of a relationship, but to all that time in between. The pool metaphor came out instinctively because I had just seen Call Me By Your Name, so the connection between a passionate love and the image of crisp blue water under the hot sun was stuck in my head.
Marwan and Pascal actually wrote the verses (drums, bass and chords) together, and it was fun to try and figure out a vocal melody that worked on this weird progression. The song is about living in denial by creating an idealistic version of life, where relationships and ethics are clear and unwavering. We like that the chorus by itself sounds like an old-fashioned love song.
DAWN CHORUS + LITTLE LIES
The decision to record ‘Dawn Chorus’ as an intro to ‘Little Lies’ came quite late. Live we always used to have a small breath before the song with those little guitar melodies – it feels like a needed break before the big finale. ‘Little Lies’ was our first time writing purely as a trio, with just 3 instruments. I feel like it’s a ‘zoomed in’ look at those very specific moments of realizing that something you believed in doesn’t apply anymore and the fear that comes with it.
The Good Soldier is out now via T3 Records. Buy or stream here.