Music / Features
Track by Track:
Terrible Signal - The Window
Words by Gabriela Caeli Sumampow
Monday 2nd November, 2020
On The Window, the second album from Terrible Signal, Vincent Buchanan-Simpson offers listeners a glimpse (or a window, if you will) into his solo project’s broadening scope - the collection of homely jangle-pop existing in the hazy space between the project’s sleepy bedroom-pop origins and the full-blown garage-rock sensibilities of the live act.
When Terrible Signal released their self-titled debut album in 2017, fans of Vincent Buchanan-Simpson were caught by surprise. Mainly recognisable as the manic frontman of Hideous Sun Demon, Vin’s venture into sunny guitar-pop was as pleasantly surprising as it was earnest and completely authentic. However, after Vin resettled in Melbourne and the project began to pick up steam as a functioning live band, the two sides of Vin’s musical brain became less distinct as Terrible Signal’s stage-show became anchored by that familiar chaotic energy. With the release of The Window last month, the past three years have finally culminated in an album that steps away from the band’s solo project origins to instead showcase each of the uniquely different moods of the project - zigzagging between homely bedroom recordings, to spirited sunshine-pop, to more frantic moments of feverish garage-rock.

Never one to reveal his cards too quickly, The Window opens in a characteristically devious way, as ‘When’ emerges slowly with a wide-eyed melody alongside swirls of ethereal synth and meticulous guitar. Moments later however, we’re hit by the frantic rush of ‘Retire’, and then the endearing chimes of ’Half The Person’, with its soaring hooks and buoyant jangles. While each song has its own charm and unexpected tricks, The Window feels like a celebration of the band’s contrasting sensibilities, truly highlighting the band's journey from bedroom recordings to being a live band, a transition which clearly sparked with King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard bassist Lucas Harwood, who released the band's self-titled debut album on his label Dusky Tracks.

Terrible Signal's influence by lush 60s pop music and 70s English folk is possibly why the album feels so inviting and nostalgic. They've stuck to their signature sunny, jangly sound listeners have grown familiar with in 'Half The Person', 'Day' and 'My Whole Life’, yet haven't shied away from giving us a taste of a languid new side, with 'Morning', 'Window' and 'Always Here' - in which its calmness provides the perfect closer to the album, and a perfect lullaby to the end of a day.

As previously mentioned, The Window feels a lot like its namesake - a peak in on the band that reveals how they’ve developed and expanded on their sound. However, to dig in a little further, we invited Vin to share the stories that inspired each moment on The Window.

This song came about after reading that Kevin Shields was took influence from 60’s British folk musicians like Sandy Denny and Bert Jansch when writing the vocal melodies for Loveless. I didn’t want it to sound like an MBV song, but I wanted to explore a sound that I thought roughly drew a connection between those two sounds, since I don’t think people typically associate shoegaze with folk. In the end, it didn’t really end up sounding quite like either, but I like what came out of it. Some industry people might question the wisdom in having such a reserved song open the album, but I think it helps build the idea that the album was written to be listened to in full. It’s not a concept LP by any means, but I was trying to form some kind of sonic narrative throughout the whole thing. It seemed like the most appropriate opener.


This is probably the grittiest song I’ve written for TS. But it’s a through and through pop song. I was basically trying to write something that had the same urgency and melodic feeling as the song ‘Oncoming Day’ by The Chills. I was a bit unstable and overwhelmed by the world at the time which you can hear it in the lyrics.

Half the Person

Gimme that jangle jangle baby. This was one of the last songs I wrote for the LP. It came together very quickly. And it’s the first proper song I’ve done that I’ve recorded drums for. I’m not an experienced drummer and I definitely wasn’t at the time, but I think I pulled it off. Lyrically it comes off pretty harsh I guess, but it’s not really aimed at anyone in particular. I know heaps of people who have tolerated toxic relationships or friendships out of empathy, guilt, submission, whatever. I’ve been through it a lot too throughout my 20s. It’s about getting past that. I like the guitar bit in the middle.


You know what, I think I was actually watching Round the Twist at the time when I wrote this song. The verse has a similar feel to the guitar in the theme song, and I remember trying to write something that sounded like Australia in the 90s, so it probably was influenced by it. And then by a funny twist of fate I ended up recording it in a house in Aireys Inlet where I could see the actual RTT lighthouse through the window as I was playing. So that’s cool. You can hear the Brian Wilson and Baroque-pop influences in the chorus as well, that’s pretty obvious. And the track name is very similar to one off the first LP. Why do I do these things? It makes life confusing. But the chorus sounded good singing “dayyyyyy” through it so it stayed.

Man If You Saw Me On the Street Today

What is with me and having the word “day” in song titles? And why is the title so long? I was really into this band called Game Theory at the time of writing this. They’re a very interesting band from the 80s that deserve a lot more attention than they get. Scott Miller was a very ambitious songwriter who pushed the boundaries of pop song-writing in some very interesting ways. I wrote the chorus in a similar style to how he would: it’s a 10 bar chord progression that modulates key a fair bit and the vocal phrase continuously throughout it, but it still sounds like a comprehensive pop song. That’s a very Game Theory style of writing. The rest of the song is a dB’s rip off (not really but the influence is pretty evident).

My Whole Life

I wrote a lot of this song in my head whilst on a plane flying back into Perth when I was still living there. I wasn’t excited to be home; I was getting bored of having lived in the same place my whole life (you get it?) and this song came out of it. I made the decision to move to Melbourne maybe three days after that flight so this song kind sort of serves as a picture of where I was at the time.


A not so subtle tribute to Velvet Underground in some ways. But the vocals were inspired by 'Nothing is Wrong' by The dB’s. I really like how some albums will include short intermission style songs, one’s that might not have a traditional structure but are still fully realised to an extent. Again, Game Theory did stuff like this a fair bit too. But the chord progression was decidedly somewhere between a VU and a Brian Wilson chord progression, at least that’s what I was going for.

Look in the Water

Like 'Half the Person', this is another song that came together really quickly. Interesting that they both ended up as singles. I wrote the chord progression, melody and loose structure all within like 15 minutes at a piano. I wanted the song to build as it went without ever breaking loose, and to capture how I felt being alone in the British countryside when I was 25. It was pretty special to me.

Switching View

So one weekend I was planning to go to the studio and record another song for the album. But at the last minute I decided to drop the song and record this instead, a song I had written and demoed a couple of nights before. This one is all me as well and you can tell by the drumming that I was really pushing myself beyond my capabilities there; I hadn’t had time to show the song to anyone so I had to record it myself. But the looseness kind of reminds me of The Clean which I find appealing. I wanted it to have the hyper energy that some early Talking Head’s song have, but a bit more rough and jangly. The lyrics were written later whilst I was on tour in Europe and boy was I feeling a bit kooky at the time. Happy but very, very hyper.

The Window

I think this is my favourite one. It was the last song I wrote as well. I’ve always loved British music like Fairport Convention, Pentangle and Nick Drake, as well as American folk guitarists like Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlins. This song was meant to sound like a classic 60s London folk song, but I used ring modulators and other synth noises as well to make it sound like its own thing. The string sounds are all from a Roland Juno Alpha 2. I think the cello sounds pretty convincing for a synth! But yeah, basically the feel of the album cover is what I was trying to convey in the song, or vice versa. It’s short too!

It’s Just You

I wrote a lot of songs for this album and a lot of them got dropped. But this was the first song I wrote for the album back in 2017 and it made it on the album not sounding much different to how it did when I first demoed it. I hadn’t played most of the parts in three years either, so I had to kind of remember them on the spot whilst tracking. Then I just improvised some synth to flesh it out a bit and help it grow. I’m happy it made it on there because it kind of ties the whole process of creation together, it’s nice.

Always Here

So, this song actually sounded wayyy different in its first demo. Originally it was a lot more upbeat, it had a beat behind it as well. It actually kind of had a Beach House vibe. But I started playing it on my Mum’s piano at a more reserved tempo and I found the song really came to life. From there I was able to adopt influences like Scott Walker, Jimmy Webb, Glen Campbell, Phil Spector, all those great 60s orchestral pop writers and producers. It was a fun challenge trying to evoke a similar sort of sound with just me and my keyboards and guitars. It works well as an album closer, and it’s the fact both the opening and closing songs are quite reserved helps evoke that ‘narrative’ I was banging on about before. But this is quite a special song to me, maybe because I know my mum likes it a lot.

The Window is out now through Heart of the Rat Records - head to to pre-order the album on limited vinyl before it drops on November 13th.