Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Album Review: This Is For You by The Suicide Tuesdays (by Emma Prew)

I stumbled across The Suicide Tuesdays whilst browsing Bandcamp, drawn to the panda on the album artwork and their ‘folk punk’ tag. However, I must admit, that when I read their band name I was a little put off by the use of the word ‘suicide’. That was before I looked up what the phrase actually means – ‘suicide Tuesday’ is used to describe the depressive period that typically occurs midweek, you could also say ‘midweek blues’ but I suppose that doesn’t have the same ring to it when it comes to band names.

At the time when I stumbled across The Suicide Tuesdays there was only one song streaming from their forthcoming album, This Is For You, so I immediately bookmarked the page and liked the band on Facebook. The band, it turned out, are a four piece from Melbourne, Australia formed by singer-songwriter, and the band’s lead vocalist and guitarist, Joe Guiton. Their debut release This Is For You was released on 18th January on Whisk & Key Records and I took a listen as soon as it dropped. (Then life got busy and it took me longer than I would have liked to get my thoughts down but better late than never!)

This Is For You opens with the appropriately titled The Start. This is the first of several short tracks that serve as interludes between sections, with this one, of course, introducing us to the album as a whole. The Start features an acoustic guitar and some rather interesting vocal parts. I say ‘interesting’ as two voices are reciting the same lyrics but one, presumably Joe, is singing with a quiet passion while the other voice recites the words more like a spoken word piece. This is not really something I’ve heard before but it certainly grabbed my attention. The last lyric of the song is ‘I’m saying goodbye just to stay alive.’  and those words stay with you as the song fades out into Joe VS Joe. This second track is the first offering of what full band Suicide Tuesdays are all about. Joe VS Joe is upbeat and catchy with a fine balance between electric and acoustic instruments. The drums are suitably pounding but there is a definite folk punk sound in the acoustic guitar elements of the song. Lyrics wise this is a heartfelt song about fighting conflicting emotions within yourself. On the one hand you want to go out there and do things spontaneously while part of you feels more apprehensive and like you are wasting time. I’m pretty sure most of us can relate to these struggles, even if just a little. ‘So sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, Just pushing myself up hill.’ Just when you think the song is slowing to an acoustic ending, the volume is cranked up again for an energetic outro.

Beer, Whiskey, Friends and Regrets (Part 1) is the third song on This Is For You and begins with some lovely rumbling drums and reverby bass guitar. The pace is fairly fast and soon gets your toes tapping, perhaps even stomping when the electric guitar comes in after the first 30 seconds. I think, and it may well be, one of the guitars almost sounds like slide guitar which has me thinking that this track wouldn’t sound out of place on Chuck Ragan’s Revival Tour. The vocals open with the lines ‘It hasn’t been the best of years, Nothing’s gone the right way, Don’t you think?’ and sets the tone for the song. Beer, Whiskey, Friends and Regrets is a song with a reasonably sad subject; having lost a friend, or friends even, in the last year but being able finding comfort in those remaining friends around you. This is a song that reflects on how important it is to stick together with those who mean the most to you and collectively not giving up. It’s a very affirming song – something that I’m soon to learn is recurring on this album. I’m fairly certain the next song, 1997, was the one song that the band had streaming ahead of the full album and therefore the first thing I heard of theirs. There are some awesomely jangly acoustic guitars in this track alongside a bigger sounding, more melodic electric guitar – I can see why this was the first song released. 1997 is a nostalgic song about being with your friends when younger and first discovering a love for music – both listening to it and playing it. But most importantly, this song is about not giving up on your dreams. The chorus is flawless – ‘And I can’t remember the words to my own songs but I can remember that pact we made in 1997, To follow every dream we had, To not give up on trying until we’re dead.’ Following 1997 is Interlude 1 (Down & Lost), the shortest of three interludes on the album at under 30 seconds in length. Rather than being an instrumental interlude, this is actually a vocals only piece that starts with the cheery ‘Looks like we’ve fucked up again…’ and continues in a similar vein. It serves as a thoughtful breather between faster paced tracks. 

Up next is a song that is simply titled Dave. Beginning after a yell of ‘one, two, three!’, Dave is a super fast paced and intense song. At only a minute in length, it makes perfect sense that the speed would be amped up but, even so, it took me a little by surprise after the lengthier mid-tempo tracks. But then there’s a slower section in the middle that I wasn’t expecting either. Of course, given the entire length of the song, it doesn’t last long. Dave is a song about a friend called Dave. There’s not much more to it and I like that. I guess it’s somewhat the idea that ‘we’ve all got a friend called [insert name here]’. Following on from Dave is Buckets. This song opens with one of the funkiest, jazziest and catchy guitar riffs of This Is For You. Before you know it the lead guitar take a backseat for shout-along vocals – ‘I can remember…’ – accompanied by rhythmic drums and a rich bassline. Buckets is another nostalgic track about getting older and forgetting certain things – like the words to your songs, names of people you’ve met and the days of the week – while you can remember other things from years ago. The song has a catchy and simple chorus ‘Buckets thinks I’m old.’ which, complete with that guitar riff from the start of the song, makes Buckets a big hit with me. Forever And A Day is track number eight and it starts out with a mid-tempo, melodic guitar introduction before the vocals come in. The brilliant opening lyrics of the song are just asking to be shouted along to. ‘We are the broken, We are the damned, We are hopeless six stringed heroes with calloused hands, We are the gifted, We are the flawed, We silent remains of disaster, But will not be ignored.’ And then there’s the chorus which is even more shout-along-able – ‘We’ll sing ’til our lungs burn out, Until all the whiskey is gone and there’s nothing to sing about…’  Forever And A Day reflects on what music means to The Suicide Tuesdays. Being in a band and writing songs to get their views and feelings across is clearly extremely important to this band. The second verse looks at people who could perhaps be considered the complete opposite of the punk rock scene, privileged and corrupt homophobic and misogynistic type folk. This is one of those songs that I want to tell everyone I know to listen to because I love it so much – definitely one of the standout tracks on This Is For You.

The second interlude of the album, Interlude 2 (Give Me Something), features some subtle background [acoustic] guitar with slightly fuzzy vocals that hold your attention immediately. ‘Give me something gold to start the melody, Give me something white to mix with grey…’  The interludes on this album are more than just instrumental filler, they are concise songs in their own right with poignant subject matter regardless of the length of the song. This one is actually 1 second longer than non-interlude track Dave! The electricity and energy is back for Blood On Your Hands, the tenth track on This Is For You. Pounding drums and melodic guitars give way to the vocals of the first verse. ‘You could have just walked away, You could have let it pass, But you had to show your friends that you don’t take no shit…’ This is a song full of anger but the band manages this without being overly aggressive. Joe sings passionately about what he believes in or, perhaps moreso, what he doesn’t believe in – cowardly people who start fights with vulnerable people and the unthinkable consequences. This is one of the longer songs on the album and features some fine whoa-ohs that back up the lead vocal. There is a sense of building in a musical breakdown section around the 3 minutes mark, you think another chorus or at least some sort of vocal section is coming but then the volume cuts out and we have a lone acoustic guitar section to end the song. More surprises. Toning things down completely is an acoustic song that allows Joe’s voice and lyrics to be the main focus, Juchie. The song opens with ‘Yet another drunken walk home, Rain is pouring down on the last cigarette I own, And it seems to be a part that I play well, If I believed in a soul I wouldn’t have one to sell.’ ‘Just found out a friend of mine had died, I don’t know how it happened but they called it suicide, And I’m struggling to find the strength to take a breath, Can’t stand to think of him feeling like he has nothing left.’ I could quote the whole song because it’s simply beautiful, heartbreaking and genuinely made me feel really emotional. Juchie is a song about dealing with grief and going through something that no one should have to – losing a friend to suicide. Until people start taking mental health issues seriously, there can never be too many songs about this sort of thing. And if you’ve lost someone or are struggling yourself with depression then songs like these are import in showing that you are not alone. There’s actually a surprise switch to the full band towards the end which gives a great sense of not being alone in this. This is an amazing song.

The third interlude, Interlude 3 (Have We Lost Our Minds), follows a similar format to the second, fuzzy vocals and subtle acoustic guitar. ‘Have we lost our minds?, All signs point to yes, Have we lost a grip on who we used to be?’ The interlude leads us nicely into the penultimate song Leave Us Be, which is another of the standout tracks – although everything on this album is top stuff to be fair. It’s almost like the band has been saving the very best stuff for, almost, last. Leave Us Be has another catchy opening guitar riff has your head nodding along instantly. Featuring mid-tempo verses and a big singalong chorus, this is quite simply the perfect punk rock tune. The incredible chorus tackles the subject of friends who are gone from this world but certainly not forgotten. ‘We’ll sing these songs for the broken hearted, To help them find their way, We’ll raise a glass for the dearly departed, We’ll carry on the fight screaming their names.’ This ought to be a sad song but if anything it is uplifting and encouraging. There is a sort of positive outlook to the song and we could all use a little more positivity in our lives. Once again, I feel like I could quote the whole song as the lyrics are just excellent here but two other lines that really stood out to me in the second verse were ‘’Cause we don’t discriminate in gender, race or age’ and ’Perfect in our own imperfect way.’  After a second rousing chorus, we are treated to a short guitar solo before the last chorus. I would love to sing along to this song live and am hypothetically planning a trip to Melbourne in my head. Bringing This Is For You to a close is Beer, Whiskey, Friends and Regrets (Part 2). The final song begins quietly with just vocals, soft acoustic guitar and no other accompanying instruments. The lyrics are very questioning – ‘Can I give this up? Can I walk away? Can I leave this all behind? Will I stay the same?’ The acoustic guitar gradually becomes more prominent and entices the listener – will the full band kick in? Of course! This is the finale after all. You definitely can’t accuse the band of rushing this last song song. The volume increases slowly but surely and a sense of passion increases with it. After 4 minutes the lyrics ‘…about beer whiskey, friends and our…’ are deliberately cut off – perhaps because these are not regrets anymore? But wait, this is a 7 and a half minute track and Beer, Whiskey, Friends and Regrets (Part 2) finished after 4 minutes. Yep, that’s right, there’s a bonus bit at the end of This Is For Your – if I’m honest, I didn’t know artists still did that. The extra bit is similar to the other interludes on the album, with the vocals being the main focus. The final words of This Is For You are about trying your best even when times get tough. That and a nice little mention of Bad Religion. What’s not to love?

I was honestly absolutely blown away by The Suicide Tuesdays and their debut album, This Is For You. I’m so glad that I bookmarked the album on Bandcamp and wasn’t put off by their band name for long. I know we’re only at the beginning of the year but The Suicide Tuesdays have set a ridiculously high bar for 2018 and my favourite albums of the year. This album is emotional, honest, uplifting and, well, quite simply incredible. Please just listen to it.

Stream and download This Is For You on Bandcamp here. And like The Suicide Tuesdays on Facebook here. What are you waiting for?

This album review was written by Emma Prew.