A phosphene, by definition, is the phenomenon of seeing light without light actually entering the eye. Ruby Ryan uses this metaphor to explore heartache and the space without someone, or the space you hold open in yourself.
“Phosphenes” has a jangly intro with Ryan’s crystal-clear vocals delivering candidness, even in its depiction of the opposite. “I don’t ever say how I feel, I’ll never show you the worst of me,” she sings in the chorus. The song builds up to a pop-power and has the ability to stick.
The video, directed by Alex Tichy, breaks from the heartache of a relationship lost and explores the vulnerable time before a relationship begins. The characters here have large plaster heads to showcase their inability to hide from what they feel — another juxtaposition against the lyrical content — and to play up the hugeness of early love. There are comedic moments such as baseball being played with a guitar and plaster food being poked at to draw out the delight.
The experience of song and video is one of charm and liveliness: a gem that balances between nostalgia and elation. As the clip continues, we start to see Ruby Ryan reveal herself. Perhaps, in the autumn of suburbia and with the help of music, she doesn’t feel the need to hide.