Kirk Van Houten, eat your heart out- Arthur Valentine is coming to a race-car bed near you.
With the release of his debut EP ‘Splitscreen’ on June 18th, the self-professed “world’s loneliest boyband” has taken world-building to the next level, with a racing theme that runs deep: recurring across Valentine’s predated work including the music video for Dream About You, it’s gone so far that a fully-playable driving game accompanies the EP- available to download and play at splitscreen.racing – with plans for a multiplayer mini-game as a backdrop for future gigs.
Designed by fellow Hausu collective member Neil O Sullivan Greene, you ride around in retro cars reminiscent of arcade classics like Daytona USA, zipping around the roads of Choker Bay with Track 3 blaring. Pro-tip: if you want to listen to the whole EP in the video game, use the cheat code “thirstemoji”.
Aside from world-building, Valentine’s penchant for summer reverie is obvious from the outset. At times diaristic, ‘Splitscreen’ is a collection of five ear-catching tracks, each tinted with a feel-good sheen. The warm sonic palette makes for easy listening – it slots in to a summer driving soundtrack. Written while Valentine was on the road, his first offering captures the feeling of passing the aux cord while blissed out, coasting around in sunny-climes.
‘Splitscreen’ is graced by three singles in the form of opener (audaciously titled) Track 3, CHOKER, and Dream About You, respectively. Bright and bursting with detail, the EP’s opening track and final single was released one week prior to the EP.
CHOKER is a slower, smoother R&B cut, the ebb to the EP’s flow, while Dream About You is an auto-tuned lovesick delight that cements Valentine’s status as a hopeless romantic, singing “If I’m in love at the end of my life, I’ll know it’s because of you/ If I’m not and I’m wondering why, it’s cause I fucked up and lost you”.
“In the nighttime, I’ll be your favourite/ Come summer time I know I’ll be doing better”, he muses on Rainbow Road (an ode to Mario Kart if there ever was one), another bout of romanticism that sits solidly in the middle of the EP. It is the clearest expression of Valentine’s bubblegum sentiment, offering a bricolage of guitar riffs, beats and layered vocals.
Ministry of Happiness brings ‘Splitscreen’ to a cliché-laden close with zinger hook “You make writing love songs way too easy/ Feels like fucking cheating when I’m singing about you”.
From first listen, the influence of fellow Hausu collective collaborators Drew Linehan (Automatic Blue) and Jack Corrigan (Actualacid) is immediately apparent. Since moving into the Hausu, eh, house, it would be reasonable to expect that Valentine’s Hausu-mates would rub off on him. Fine-tuned over lockdown, he put the finishing touches on his latest release- resulting in a delicious blend of integration and experimentation.
Showing versatility and brewing potential, Arthur Valentine’s debut EP is a record to ease into summer, and a real glance at Hausu’s ethos: ‘Splitscreen’ is a poster child for collective DIY spirit.