I had the pleasure of catching HABITS live for the first time last year. It was in a tiny room filled with equal parts curious music industry personnel and an assortment of die-hard fans of all kinds. One half of the room was uncertain, the other half feverish with excitement. All in attendance left feeling the same way – enlightened. A HABITS performance is akin to a ritual – an incendiary act of expression that meshes noise and movement that is gripping and all-encompassing. It’s an amalgam of dance and music and emotion that left me in a state of anoesis. For 45 minutes there was nothing else, just HABITS.
More than a year after their groundbreaking EP Ugly Cry, the duo has emerged to release a new track – one that perfectly encapsulates the vespertine magic that has left many in rapture. ‘SHAME/DESIRE’ showcases HABITS’ signature industrial-dance pulse, their rhythmic clatter, and their hauntingly beautiful vocalisations conveying emotions in flux. A listen to this track conjures striking mental imagery. I see flashes of crimson strobe. I feel walls shuddering under the onslaught of bass. Silhouettes move amidst the flash and the pulse in a dark realm of obsidian and steel. Smoke envelopes. Ecstasy. Obsession. Indifference. The scent of sweat emanates off those in close proximity. Chaos. Beauty. Heat. Heat. Heat.
Despite its formidable sonic structure, ‘SHAME/DESIRE’ sees HABITS at their most self conscious and most self destructive. Information in the press material says that this song is the duo’s apology for ‘being a piece of human garbage who will never change’. Whether or not this is a fair assessment of themselves is beside the point, ‘SHAME/DESIRE’ speaks to the insecurities and depressive lulls anyone experiences when we actively choose to compare ourselves to others instead of discovering our own self-worth. The self-loathing conveyed in the lyrics should pull at the heartstrings of anyone that has grappled with their perception of self, or those who have pushed others away to further indulge the unhealthy thoughts as a form of purposeful self-destruction.
Some lyrical examples:
“I lose faith that I am enough / my insecurities aren’t cute any more”
“I see myself testing your mental health / I don’t know why you’d even try / but my doubts are drowned in the blacks of your eyes / on the days I wake up alive”
“This is what I get for all I never did right”
“Just please delete me / I won’t look to you to complete me”
These are just a few of the painful lyrical fragments jutting from/into the skin of ‘SHAME/DESIRE’. It’s a song that welcomes oblivion in all its forms. It’s a song that places the beauty of others above the beauty of the self and revels in the recklessness of the ‘ugly feelings’. It’s a confronting glimpse of more than just low self-esteem and a case of the blues – the song’s underbelly revealing sentiments of worthlessness is scary, especially to those that can relate. HABITS do not take the subject as a joke – it’s as bluntly confessional a track as any we’ve received on the topic of mental health and the scars we gather daily, and I fucking hope that the process of creating of this track, expressing these feeling and the resulting love and attention the track will (and deserve to) receive helps both members of HABITS feel more at home in their own skin.
This track encapsulates the beauty and brutality of HABITS – there’s so much more beneath the throb and pulse. This is music created and performed on a knife’s edge, which is why it’s so thrilling for everyone experiencing it.