By Meg McCarney
Melbourne-based Maple Glider, the musical persona of Tori Zietsch, has released a video for the new single from her debut album, To Enjoy is the Only Thing. The new track, entitled "Swimming" is entrancing in its dreamy, laidback delivery, rife with the kind of sun-soaked, effortless vocals that seem poised to cement Maple Glider amongst indie powerhouses like Florence Welch and Maggie Rogers. Her music is heartfelt to the point of inducing secondhand grieving, and it is so emotional because her pain is so transparent; in that, listening becomes a communal experience of healing.
On "Swimming," Zietsch said, "This was meant to be a love song, but by the time I finished it, it kind of predetermined a break-up. I’d been experiencing some of the most beautiful places I’d ever been in, and falling out of love was very confusing. I was trying to force myself to be happy and in love, but I was far from home, and really lonely. It made sense to record the song after the break-up. I kind of felt like I was able to handle the sincerity of it then."
In the single's accompanying video, Maple Glider’s lover is a (literally) lifeless, a drooping skeleton figure whom she carries from vignette to vignette with her. We get the sense of Zietsch being solely responsible for keeping this relationship afloat in this imagery as she carries the couple’s emotional weight alone. As she stares emptily at her skeleton love, waiting for him to make the next move in a game of cards, we realize that their proximity is devoid of any real affection.
That’s not to say the track is wholly negative, however. The black-and-white scenes are interspersed with faded film reel shots in color, as Zietsch’s lullaby-esque lilting adds a sense of life to the desert scenery. Her sweet harmonies lend light to what is, lyrically, a stark portrayal of lovelessness. In fact, the heart of this video lies with the presence of Zietsch herself — she drinks red wine, sways in a white sparkly suit, and revels in her memories, laughing in a way that makes viewers feel like they’re in on all her secret jokes. Looking back through the track, she recalls days where she almost succumbed to the siren song of marriage, and the memories in which she overlooked the Birling Gap with her lover, spent hazy days in good company, and lived amongst the mountains.
As the track reveals, eventually, Zietsch refuses to allow these nostalgic ramblings to belie the true nature of her lost love. She achingly recalls desperate pleas from her lover to stick around, the pain of almost packing up and moving out so many times before. "Swimming" is a song of what-ifs and could-have-beens, capturing the half-in, half-out nature of all relationships on the rocks. While Zietsch remains truthful to the good moments, offering them up as a salve, she bravely recognizes that beneath them was suffering.
Ultimately, "Swimming" is a track so painstakingly, uncomfortably relatable that it cannot help but capture the listener's attention. The lyrical content, the understated drum keeping heartbeat time on the track, and the soft, fading reverb on Zietsch's vocals culminate in a beautiful tribute to love and all its ensuing battle scars.
To Enjoy is the Only Thing will process the emotions associated with falling out of love with smirks and winks, offering humor up as a strategy to both cope with and recount the erratic nature of a relationship on the way out. On an album inspired by, amongst other things, a"coroner's report" and the "end of love," "Swimming" does a remarkable job of furthering the narrative of melancholy and erosion that will underscore Zietsch's debut.
With accolades from NPR and BrooklynVegan, Maple Glider is already well on her way to indie singer-songwriter stardom. To Enjoy is the Only Thing will be released on June 25, 2021 by Partisan Records—pre-order a copy here.
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