“In Denial, Force A Smile” isn’t just the debut record for Tired Eyes. It also serves as the very first music the four-piece has ever put out into the world. No demos. No previews. Nothing. They hit the studio, bashed out a six-track EP and blasted into our ears with a single straight off the bat. The alt-rock quartet out of Brisbane have only been together since late last year, but they’ve already proved themselves to be a formidable force in Australian music. Guitarist and vocalist Joey Keating leads the charge, with brothers Jesse & Judah Kampkes flanking him on bass and keys respectively, and young gun Samuel Peacock bringing the percussive noise.
The opener, “Unforgiveness“, starts with a light ambiance, accented with a soothing guitar before being joined by drums maintaining the groove of the introduction. The track amps up at the midpoint, with Keating’s harsh vocals cutting through like a chainsaw in the tranquil forest. A single screamed vocal line is all that this short track has to share before the guitar and drums take over again, then fading into silence. A breath is all there’s time for before second single, Outta Sight, kicks in, bringing the first real example of the band’s full sound. Clean vocals take precedence, in contrast to the opening track, proving both the vocal talents of Keating and bassist Jesse. Lyrics about the hope of forgiveness, hurt and giving up plague the heart of the protagonist, drowning his sorrows in drink and cigarettes. The cut from clean to hardcore-esque vocals in the second half is well-timed in the story, the exacerbated emotions of the protagonist at their head. This track is unwavering in its strength for the full five and a half minutes.
Lead single, “A Place, A Space, A Symphony“, is up next. The harmony of both vocalists works perfectly in the chorus that calls for wanting to live in a dream state forever. “Wish that I could sleep and simply wake up,” is the call, theorising about what it’d be like to live on an idyllic plain where you could live without sin or consequence. A vigorous track that starts with a punch and doesn’t relent until the final quarter, where ambience again takes the lead, with Judah’s keys closing the song dreamily, fittingly for the context.
Interlude, “Tempt Me”, showcases the instrumental talents of the foursome, with vocal interjections from Keating giving shape to the piece. The record then seamlessly flows into “Dissonance“, so much so that it took a couple of listens to realise they were separate tracks. “Intoxicating, like a serpent seduced by song, and like a voice in a choir, I can’t help but to sing along,” – that’s exactly the way this track should be described, with its infectious energy and an unbridled power that is driven by the pure passion that exists within these four bodies.
The closing track on the record was something completely unexpected. “LOVECVTS” opens with a monologue from the protagonist of 1945 film, “Brief Encounter” before the music kicks into a familiar-sounding tune. It isn’t long before it’s evident that this is a somewhat satirical cover of The Cure’s “Lovecats“. It has the key elements of the classic track, but with the signature imprint of Tired Eyes making this a completely new track. This is the perfect, albeit indulgent, way to close out the record. This debut effort doesn’t miss a beat, and is the first in what will hopefully be a strong career for Tired Eyes. If this is only the beginning, we’d better be ready for a storm in their next record!
“IN DENIAL, FORCE A SMILE” IS OUT VIA DIGITAL OUTLETS ON JUNE 29