On 'Big Train,' Pllush Ponders The Difference Between Loneliness And Being Alone : All Songs Considered The San Francisco band formerly known as Plush has written a soundtrack for a breakup's aftermath from its forthcoming album Stranger to the Pain.
NPR logo On 'Big Train,' Pllush Ponders The Difference Between Loneliness And Being Alone

On 'Big Train,' Pllush Ponders The Difference Between Loneliness And Being Alone

Pllush Nick Lomboy/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Nick Lomboy/Courtesy of the artist

Pllush

Nick Lomboy/Courtesy of the artist

San Francisco-based Pllush makes hazy dream-pop that pairs emotionally wrought lyrics with maxed-out shoegaze guitars. The band has developed a dense, harmony-rich sound over the course of several releases — all, up until now, under the name Plush. For the release of Stranger to the Pain, its forthcoming album, the band has added the second l to its name, honed its pop melodies and sharpened its guitar-heavy sound.

"Big Train," from the forthcoming album, is not so much a breakup song but a breakup-aftermath song, a soundtrack for when the reality of change has set in. Over crackling guitars, singer and guitarist Karli Helm ponders the difference between loneliness and being alone. Helm says the song was written after the end of a one-sided relationship.

"Afterwards, I had other interests in life," Helm says to NPR Music in a statement, "but I started to feel hopeless in dating, wondering if anyone was ever going to fulfill a certain part of me that I'd never felt fully reciprocated in past relationships."

"You've never even been here before / How do you know to gauge what's right from wrong? / Who's gonna love me more / when I'm crying in the middle of the night?," Helm asks in the song's chorus. Her ruminations feel intimate and introspective, dramatically punctuated by the band's rhythm section — drummer Dylan Lockey and bassist Sinclair Riley — until the song bursts open in its final minute, where Helm is backed up by the voices of local musicians Hannah Valente and Max Freeland, a gentle reminder of how universal loneliness can feel and of the comfort the presence of friends can bring.

Stranger to the Pain comes out June 8 on Father/Daughter.