8 September 2016
Pretend Happy - Tired Eyes
It started with a name whilst I was researching for a radio show I present, I was looking for new music to play on the show and just came across the name Pretend Happy. It is similar to when I am looking at covers for new albums and I do 'Cover Roulette', sometimes I am attracted by a name and Pretend Happy just spoke to me. So, who are this band? Well, they originated in Barnstaple, North Devon, UK in 2013 and consist of Jack Brown, Tim Kelly and Nathan Cook. A quick read of the internet has sadly shown that the band have entered an indefinite hiatus and just played their last show for the foreseeable future on 1st September 2016, just after they had supported Moose Blood on one of their shows. If that is the case, it could be that this is the only album in their short career; but how does the album sound? Well, let us find out how 'Tired Eyes' has turned out....
Starting the album is “Sink" which is a short introduction that sets up the album, a song about either letting go or sinking in a relationship and trying to make sense of the problems that are in someone's head. It is a slow song, a strumming number that sounds as if it is requiring a few other voices to help sing along and then the band kicks in and it builds the anticipation. Next is "Hellp" (no that is not a spelling error, that is how the band have titled this song), this song has the low-harmonic sound that was originally used by the likes of Far & the Ataris which has become popular again with bands like Moose Blood. It is a mixture of emotional punk (before it was a haircut) and grunge with a touch of shoegazing as well. It is a good song that focuses on loss, grief and the hope of better days to come. The title track is next and at this point they hit their groove, in "Tired Eyes" you find the band questioning how to let go of some experiences and wanting for thing to stop being so hard. It is a track with sadness in the mix and in places it feels like a cry for help. I like this one, it has great hook riff and a fantastic melody as well. "Save Me" brings on the misery and focuses on not being able to say how you feel and the dread regretting it when the end is near. It is slow burner, it takes its time to reveal that hook which is in the mix; but when it does get its hook into you, then it is hard to escape and misery, as they say, does love company. "Iced Teeth" is the fifth song on the album and marks the halfway point of the record. This song has a little more bite behind the guitars, there is an angry to parts of this song which has replaced the misery and sadness of the first four tracks. I like this change in attitude and it feels like a barrier was broken when they created this song, not all sadness needs to be miserable.
With the sound of crashing cymbals and a base drum, "I Remember" ushers in the second half of the album with a song about the emptiness and self-pity of feeling cut off from the rest of the world due to some actions and depression. This slow, melodic number is another grower and tale of misery needs a few spins to settle but it is hard going at times. "Turnover" picks up the pace from "I Remember", it brings a new slant to this album with a focus on the indie side of the band being added to the mix. Another tale of angst and love, it treads a fine line between hope and failure and most importantly, it does not sound as if it is wanting to wallow in the misery. With a good contrast between the loud/quite dynamic, it is my favourite song of the album. "I'm Home" bring the noise to the album, adding a shot of adrenaline to the album that was needed; as much as I like the slower end of emotional punk, sometimes it is good to hear the distortion peddle being hit a little earlier. The down tuned, fuzzy noise is contrasted nicely with the minimal verses and it bounces around your head like the mosh-pit is already in full swing. "Arsonist" brings out the slower side of the band, starting off with just guitar and vocals as this tale of disassociation and emptiness is acted out in front of the world. Then the band joins in, the mood starts to sound pissed off, the vocals become shouts and it is a fantastic eruption to what could have easily turned into a nightmare track. It is another of my favourite songs from this album, the energy from the music just ticks all my boxes. The curtain is brought down on this album with "Dirt" which let’s rip at the world, a possible drug habit and everyone better get ready for a bumpy ride towards the end of the road. It is down tuned grunge, shouting at the wind and looking for the cathartic release once more. It is a slower number than might have been necessary at this point and I might have swapped it with "Arsonist", but that is just me nit-picking. It is a really good song that ends this album with a bang as the feedback fades out.
This album reminds me of Moose Blood and the Ataris, with the influence of both bands being plain to see and it has that emotional fuel that makes for an emotive experience and that is always a hard thing to do without sounding like a small child who has lost their temper. It is a balance between inner turmoil and cathartic release and Pretend Happy got it spot on for me. The music has a great sound that mixes grunge undertones, emotional punk drive and alternative rock sensibilities that would make them popular with more than one crowd and that is something difficult to pull off. I also feel if they had have been found across the pond in America they would have exploded at events such as the Warped Tour seems to be perfect for them, or the Slam Dunk festivals in the UK (I have checked and could not see if they played this) as their music speaks of those younger days and it would have been a good mix. It might be a bit bleak in places, but that is what music is from time to time and it can also be beautiful as well. If this is their only release and they have already run into the sunset, then they leave with a great emotional punk gem; here is to Pretend Happy, I wish I had have found you guys earlier.
7.5 out of ten - This is good and worth checking out
Top track -Turnover
You can purchase Tired Eyes on Amazon here.
You can purchase Tired Eyes on the Pretend Happy Bandcamp page here.
You can follow the activities of Pretend Happy on Facebook here.
You can stream Tired Eyes on Deezer here.
You can stream Tired Eyes on Spotify here.
You can stream Tired Eyes on Tidal here.
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