Lyrical Analysis of Holly Humberstone’s “The Walls Are Way Too Thin”

April 14, 2023

By Kelly Schwint

Album Art from 'The Walls Are Way Too Thin' EP

Originally released as a single, the title track on Holly Humberstone’s 2021 EP, The Walls Are Way Too Thin, shows a different side of moving to a city. Like many of us, the singer-songwriter idolized leaving her rural hometown for a bigger, more exciting place to live. The song shows the relatable experience of plans not working out exactly how you hoped — and the loneliness and isolation that comes with it. 

I first listened to the single a few months after Humberstone dropped it in May 2021 and immediately felt seen by the painful loneliness conveyed. After moving to New York City for college in August 2022, the song developed a new meaning for me. Similar to Humberstone, I moved to a big city at a young age without knowing many people. In her case, it was London, but the rarely discussed isolation you can experience in these sought-out places was all the same.

Humberstone begins the song by expressing the discomfort of living with someone new in such a small space. Although there are plenty of roommate horror stories, the lyrics address a specific uneasiness experienced through passive disagreements and butting heads with someone. 

You say it's never your intention
And I'm just in a bad mood
There was a possible connection on the table for a second
Then she made such an entrance
Can't stand all this tension

While she explains her relationship with an unfamiliar roommate, she also touches on pure alienation. Even when surrounded by millions of people in a small area, the disconnection still creeps up. Humberstone sings this message perfectly. I had also felt that when I was living in my dorm freshman year — even when my roommate was around or I had friends over, it was easy to feel detached from the moment. 

You're blowing smoke rings in the corridors, I feel so cold
How come it rains inside?
The house is full, but I'm alone

Despite feeling dissociated, Humberstone shares her appreciation for music and how her favorite songs help her overcome challenges. This part of the song is particularly relatable to me since so many songs (including many by Holly Humberstone) help me through my difficulties, whether a bad test grade or a panic attack. 

The same old sad songs I cling to

In an Instagram post, Humberstone explained her relationship to the music, “I wrote this song about moving to London on my own and feeling very lonely & claustrophobic in my tiny lil room. Everything I knew to be normal had shifted, I didn’t really have any friends and felt quite lost.” Her situation is utterly relatable, and she expresses it transparently and honestly. Often, songs can find us when we most need them or resurface when there's a new meaning. I recommend listening to music from your past. You never know what it’ll sound like through the ears of a new person.