On the title track to Lisa Mitchell’s new album Warriors, there’s a line that says “Daniel Johns walked in a very straight line.” You can’t have grown up in Australia and not recognise the Silverchair reference. “That was literally me being on a school bus on the way home and hearing Straight Lines for the first time coming through these sh-tty bus speakers, and me having to yell out to the bus driver to turn it up,” Mitchell laughs.
Teenage recollections soak all the way through this record; it’s quite a different tack to the musician’s previous release, Bless This Mess, in which the present was so important (the album’s opener Providence includes the repeated phrase “I’m here, I’m here”). “It is very retrospective,” Mitchell agrees, “and I, myself, have been trying to work out why. One theory I have is that I’m 26 now, and the time I’m quite obsessed with at the moment is when I was 14, 15.
I was still at school, very much under the umbrella of my family and very safe. At that age you’re just starting to find your independence and starting to have different opinions to your parents; obviously hitting puberty, and your sexuality is awakening. You’re still incredibly naïve and your dreams are so huge. I feel it’s so interesting for everyone to think back about what they cared about. What was on your bedroom wall at that age, before you experienced the real world?”
These ideas come out as sparse but extremely warm sketches, with delicate, subtle accents of electric piano and gentle syncopated beats with small rimshots. What Is Love sounds the most full (paradoxically, because it’s only Mitchell and her acoustic guitar) but I Remember Love is even more beautiful: the synths and congas have a very romantic, dynamic mood. “That one was actually the only song I wrote when [Eric J, producer] and I were recording,” Mitchell says. “Eric and I were sharing our influences and gradually realising where our brains crossed over, which tended to come back to jangly pop, and a slightly ‘90s feeling. I guess I’d been listening to The Lemonheads. I was enjoying so many of these iconic songs that were based around little guitar lines, often acoustic guitar lines. I had this vision of the line, ‘Our bodies are like cases, I remember love, hold us up like masks.’ Eric and I finished writing it together.”