Valby Hallen, Copenhagen, DEN - 26/4
Written by: PP on 19/06/2016 17:59:23
Considering the success of Basement, the UK is starting to push out like-minded bands balancing a fine line between emo, indie, and alternative rock with a focus on introspective, contemplative melodies rather than going all out in one or the other. Think the likes of Moose Blood, Milk Teeth, et al. Pretend Happy from Barnstaple find themselves spot on in this description on their debut album "Tired Eyes". Concentrating on soothing soundscapes and dreamy melodies instrumentally, their vocalist's somber vocals give the record its eerie vibe overall that makes for a thoughtful, contemplative soundscape akin to the likes of Basement, Have Mercy, The Jealous Sound or Balance & Composure.
The latter band, in particular, has audibly been a huge inspiration for their sound. Sometimes a little too much even. "Save Me", for instance, could've easily been on "The Things We Think We're Missing", where the difference between the two bands is practically non-existent. There are several other tracks too where Pretend Happy essentially sound like a Balance & Composure clone. But since the songs both sound and feel exactly like how you want this genre to be, I don't see that as a major problem. "Sink", "Tired Eyes" and "I Remember", for instance, showcase a band whose understanding of the quiet/loud and slow/fast dynamics is simply brilliant, resulting in emotionally-wrought songs whose casual tempo helps bring the subtle detail forward in the soundscape. The latter track, in particular, draws parallels to the emotional torment of Have Mercy's debut album "The Earth Pushed Back" with its repeated "I never felt so lonely, my friends don't even know me" chorus lyrics delivered with a melancholic, longing sense of sadness that just makes it work so great.
Throughout "Tired Eyes", Pretend Happy demonstrate a surprisingly uniform dreamy expression despite varying the format significantly in the process. "I'm Home", for instance, is in stark contrast with "I Remember", given its loud wall of guitars forging an expansive soundscape perfect for filling out the spaces in intimate clubs. Yet the red thread of subtle indie-flavored alternative rock songs spliced with emo influences stays the course throughout, culminating in the album highlight "Dirt", the last track on the record. It's a beautiful demonstration of the quiet/loud dynamic in action with its laid-back verses, its loud guitar distortion during the choruses, and the prolonged, soothing vocal melodies that permeate the song from start to finish.
So while "Tired Eyes" often sounds like a whole lot of other bands doing the same thing, it nonetheless leaves a memorable impact. The songs are great and there isn't a single weak link on the record. It's only a matter of time before the scene catches wind of these guys.
Download: Sink, Dirt, Hellp, Tired Eyes
For the fans of: Balance & Composure, Have Mercy, The Jealous Sound, The Dangerous Summer
Release date 08.02.2016