When people write about the bands and movements which helped them or saved them or forever changed them there’s typically an event, an anecdote, a catalyst; an instinctive reaction to something – a design or aesthetic, or even a perfunctory lyric – which just… clicks, which opens emotional pathways between music and listener and emancipates them from a muted inability to express themselves. Music we connect to – deeply, palpably connect to – is born from expressing our otherwise inexpressible. It could be as blunt as an emo chantalong or as abstract as free jazz’s mystical intuition, but we recognise ourselves. Verbalised or wordless, it’s reflective of us, and by turns offers – if not absolution or salvation or even solution – at least a sliver of peace of mind.

Reflective music is big and transcendental and cathartic as it captures life’s wonder and its spiralling, shitty troughs. But life from a distance is wondrous and shit in evanescent passages, and most of the time it’s just really fucking mundane. Most of the time we’re commuting on overcrowded public transport or emailing “sorry for the late reply!” or spending twenty minutes deciding whether to watch Oscar bait or the latest Judd Apatow 90 minute dick joke; but these bulks of relentless tedium go largely unsoundtracked. Tall Ships constitute an exception.

Formed in 2009 via Falmouth and, prior to their break-up, based in Brighton, their two EPs and two LPs married post rock-styled compositions to math rock exactitude and 00s-era indie rock urgency, an incongruous blend that worked propulsed by their imagination and doggedly tight songwriting. My first encounter with Tall Ships was a daytime set at 2000 Trees Festival in 2014. Then, it was their colossi riffs and magnetic energy which incited the obligatory Download Entire Discography on my return to civilisation. After spending more time in gestation I noticed something off-kilter with their lyrics; that while they defer to the wondrous and the shit their contemporaries tackle, they were bypassing them to confront the vacuum of the majority.

How do you capture and reflect the inane if its definitive quality is its conspicuous absence of event, anecdote, or catalyst? By evoking and stirring mundanity’s duopoly of restlessness and lethargy – desiring something more from life while resigned to its difficulty – and framing life as a mechanical procession of this duopoly interjected by brief jabs of joy; and underlined by a gurgling futility.

They recurrently absolve restlessness as natural, recognising the pervading hurdle of jealousy and longing – whether for the warped past or the invented future – as signposted by ‘Home’; “We all know nostalgia is toxic and dangerous/ That it poisons the heart, smothers and enslaves us”, and also, heartbreakingly, by ‘Sea Of Blood’; “Time, it devours your shape and your edges/ All memory is bent to suit our hidden agendas”. Memory and fantasy can even cripple us in the present, perplexed by the impermeable miracle of evolution. ‘Ode To Ancestors’ is such a love story baffled by romantic drowning in a lover’s enigmatic perfection; “This is my ode to your ancestors/Appreciate your recipe, their million year masterpiece”. Even within seemingly grandiose and gilded romances, they persist in yearning to understand something immaterial.

But we’re also impeded by the adjacent block of lethargy and despondency, as sighed by ‘Petrichor’; “I’m cold to all illustrious distractions/ Lost to love, work and play/ Stuck in my own world of pallid abstractions/ Forcing out these things to say.” On ‘Books’ they even recall the anxiety around anxiety, the omnipresent concrete of fatalism; “I’ve wandered this library for years now/ Killing time while time slowly kills me.”

Love, time, death, nostalgia, all are the intersecting root and cause of a relentless anxiety and regret which shudders through Tall Ships, which aggravates a restlessness and impairs with lethargy. The elasticity and brevity of time and existence is pretty anxiety-inducing; existential despair hand-in-hand with anxiety over lives bloated by insconsequence.

Tall Ships' answer to this, ultimately, advises urgently readjusting perspective – or more specifically, urgently trying to readjust perspective – as cascaded on ‘Meditations On Loss’; “So breathe in, breath out/ Take note, take count/ Tell me honestly, my friend/ What did you live for[…] I can’t see the wood for the trees”. Stare past your anxiety at the biggest picture, though we understand if you can’t.

Ric Phethean’s lyrics muddle between aphorism and opacity, rarely conjuring specific images or ideas unless they’re jaggedly considered – the “road not taken”, the “[runs] naked into the sea”, the “willing castaways” – permitting the listener to project such malleable conceits onto their own anxieties and ambitions, their inconceivably complex and individual web of interiority. It’s a provision of space and creation, for us to mould the clay and fill the blank of our personal roads not taken, our own naked runs to the sea, our case of being the willing castaway. Deciding against a new career path, an impulsive night out, cancelling weekend plans for self-care. Decisions or instances which might seem innocuous and emotionally placid but by their very occurring, resonate and matter.

These passing phantasmagorias are seeds from which grow our distilled selves, where individual, constant stresses and aches, now shrunk to a graspable article, are manageable and maybe conquerable; and the complementary, camouflaged pleasures of “the little things” are more manifestly appreciable. Their message is covertly, wholesomely prescriptive, transcribed through moral fables, warning and comforting; and also cosmic, ageless mythologies about why our irrelevance actually liberates us.

What’s happening in front of you might be traumatically dull given the unknowable enormity of everything beyond it, but it is what it is. Stand fast against the tiresome tide and extrapolate delight and comfort and love where you can. ‘Day By Day’, the closing track of their final album Impressions performs a fitting denouement by condensing their manifesto, warmly asserting the necessity to mine meaning from trivialities, beauty from the beige, and purpose from the inane.

Let's escape, find a place where everything's ok/ Where all the pressure in our lives will fall away/ Somewhere we'll have the time to redefine, come alive/ To really mean something through it all

So long Tall Ships, and thank you for helping me navigate the entropy and mundane, inbetween the wonderful and terrible. Existence is arbitrary, time is fleeting, and love is fragile, we shouldn’t pollute them by caring about the extraneous.