After lying low for three years, Howlie has FINALLY come back to Sounds Good. This year has been full of highs and lows and twists and turns but writing about a new Howlie release was something I never expected. I thought learning of Adam Kovic’s dismissal from Funhaus could never be topped in terms of shocks, but here we are.

Contact High features three songs, two of which from 2014. They were forever destined for the cutting room floor, before being reworked and completed earlier this year. Rejuvenated with a fresher and more experienced mindset, this modest collection showcases Howlie’s progression as a songwriter.

“…and here’s the scariest monster of all. This little witch doesn’t know it, but she’s taking some frightening chances of being hurt. Maybe badly hurt.” The Halloween PSA opens the EP with its title track, setting the tone with an unnerving message that could relate to several things. As we dive deeper into the tune it tells a story of boy meets girl, with the boy retelling his thoughts through a nervousness that resonates heavily. Soon we’re told that the girl has cheated (with a friend no less!), signalling a spiral in mood that’s reflected in the lyrics. “You make me wish that I was comatose”.

Instrumentally the song is haunting. Lone acoustic chords ache through the speakers, careened by the echo of backing vocals and joined by the occasional percussion that act like heart-struck footsteps. It sounds more than the sum of its parts and fills the room with a series of melodies and harmonies that really stick with you. It’s a great way to get Contact High started.

‘I Don’t Know Who I’m Talking To’ follow with an equally sombre performance. Stemmed mostly in Howlie’s vocals, that sound so pained it’s hard to clarify if it’s through loss or fear of being lost. There’s a lot of detail inside, from the wandering interlude section, and even the small weeps that get lost in the chords. It all hits the heartstrings. It’s very compelling, especially in the chorus which sees the melodies hang on to each word.

‘Theresa’ picks up the pace with a rolling flurry of acoustic chords, strummed hard enough to let those strings shine. Howlie’s vocals run alongside, hitting the high notes that turns this love number into a real anthemic listen. I love the chorus. It sounds like one I’ve heard before, which makes it feel rather comforting. It’s a feeling I could do with, as Contact High is an EP that strips you of all warmth and leaves you with raw, unfiltered emotions throughout. It’s a fantastic listen, and one that makes me happy to reconcile with an old friend over. Don’t leave it so long next time plz bbyboi.

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