While it’s commonly thought that pain most often breeds art, Friedrich Nietzsche once said “the essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude,” and there’s no better example of the beauty that both emotions can bring than with Nashville-based Pop Band LOYALS‘ self titled debut. Out 2/2 on Tooth & Nail Records, the debut album constructs a cinematic world that carefully navigates between the highs and lows of our own emotions– grabbing listeners for the ride with their airy melodies and infectious hooks. Considering the transparent nature of their songs, the listener is quickly welcomed into the world and mind of LOYALS; and instead of putting up a defensive front or persona in order to add distance from the content, the band instead doubled down in earnesty, playing to their strengths as authentic songwriters. Being completely honest without a hint of pretentiousness, the band shares “This album was made in a time when there was a lot to be thankful for and a lot to be hurt about. We tried to create a sound that is the most tailored to who we are and what we like as possible.” Without trying to hide anything about them, LOYALS made their album in full force; letting you know everything about them while celebrating their creative influences– which is often easier said than done as a performer. This creative risk certainly paid off, as this self titled debut from LOYALS plays like a euphoric dream, even in its bleakest moments.
The band, comprised of Andrew Gomez (guitar), Evan Thon (bass), and Dane Allen (vocals, guitar), expertly synthesizes elements of Pop, Indie, Rock, and R&B to create a sound that can appeal to a wide audience; from the art-indie of The 1975, LANY, and The Neighborhood, to the more pop-rock focused direction of The Cab, Neon Trees, and The Maine. The band’s combined sound is a direct product of their daily lives, right down to the music that they consume: “It’s therapeutic to write what you feel in the moment, whether you’re sad, or you’re in love, or you just don’t care. We aren’t curated, we just write what we feel,” Allen explained in regards to their process. By translating their lives into music fueled by pure emotion without curation, LOYALS has created an album that sounds effortless and natural. The LP portrays something so universal both in sound and content alike, that when coupled with the band’s distinct talent for writing a truly grabbing hook, it becomes impossible to not want to move to the music; to become one. The band doesn’t hold back the punches in this sense, which is perfectly demonstrated with the first two tracks “Face” and “Mind Up“.
“Face” is a larger than life intro ballad of sorts that perfectly foreshadows the emotional intensity of the album, as its sweeping synth landscape slowly lifts you up until you’re floating with the crowds as Allen forewarns, “Look me in the eye it’s out now— yeah there’s no going back. I let a lotta words out of my mouth, oh just hear me out. You know I love ya.” Then, you’re dropped into “Mind Up“– an effervescent pop song that turns that drop into a soaring anthem with an indie pop groove. From those initial songs, the tone of the album is set, and LOYALS does a magnificent job of cinematically letting each emotion travel from song to song– letting it progress or change with time– where by the end of the record there’s a fully comprehensive and fluid emotional storyline. The first four tracks are absolute pop perfection, culminating with the breezy single “Skyline“– a summery tribute to falling fast and hard. The track sounds exactly how love at first sight feels– exciting, addictive, and at times hesitant, as the track is ever self aware to how irrational these feelings can be, confessing “I know this sounds strange, after all this is our first date,” before ultimately saying that this chemistry “…isn’t typical, this is magical.”
All of this pop build-up flows seamlessly into LOYALS most recent single, and 5th track, “Hold On“. The R&B influenced ballad drips of a stormy seduction as Allen croons about continued yearning after a breakup; all over enticing beats which operate much like the eye of a hurricane– calm and full of hope amongst a promise of destruction. The track is everything that pop has been leading to in 2018, as LOYALS has absorbed every influence in order to produce a track that’s perfectly pop and overflowing with genuine emotion. When talking about the track, which premiered on Baeble.com, they explained to the outlet “‘Hold On’ exhibits a dark kind of heartbreak that still has hope. That may be the most painful kind of heartbreak,” which perfectly translates to the beautifully written song.
LOYALS has an expert understanding of how to capture the complexity of human emotion and translate that both lyrically as well as sonically. As they’ve made sure to showcase their full potential while never sounding one-tone, they’ve created songs such as “Gone“, which uses a more rock approach to express the desperation felt when feeling lost without someone. To create the sound of desperately wishing for someone to re-enter your life, the band uses a fierce guitar and a heavy drumming that simultaneously makes you want to dance all the while expressing the emotional force from which the lyrics derive. Similarly, “To The Top” possesses a dynamic pace of rhythm, even opening on what sounds much like a drum line, to perfectly pair lyrics about persisting to be with someone through proving one’s self with a similarly manic track– all in all making a quintessential pump-up jam. Other highlights from the release are the sickeningly sweet “Heartstopper” about having eyes for someone out of your reach and all of the butterflies that are involved, as well as my personal favourite, “IDC“. “IDC” is the essential self-reflective ballad of the album, in which, all theatrics come to a halt and everything remains still for a moment; easy comparisons would be tracks like “Me” by The 1975 and “It Was Love” by LANY. The track hits like sequential waves as you’re absorbed into its ambient energy, and as opposed to earlier tracks where you’re floating or flying, in this one you’re hovering. You’re but an inch above the ground in a thick fog– enough to separate your experience from reality and instead enter an all consuming void. The song is pensive, the musical equivalent to lighting up a cigarette on an empty street at 4am when things aren’t going as planned. Ultimately, this song sound like existential cinematic despair in a vacuum dream-void, and it serves to flesh out lyrics painfully depicting the emptiness felt after a breakup, such as the climatic hook piece “…if you’re not part of my life then I don’t care.” The track is absolutely stunning, and is a perfectly executed slow moment in an album filled with anthems.
Through their debut, LOYALS has made an emotional soundscape of an album that fearlessly allows you to drift off with only your feelings to guide the way. With expertly composed sounds and catchy yet gut-wrenching lyrics, the release is a sonic boom of a debut– one of the best I’ve heard in terms of sonically recognizing who they are as a band. The album feels effortless, in that the sound fits them so well that it’s anything but forced, and this natural harmony creates an album so stunning and genuine that it becomes hard to believe that this is the band’s only release. By the final track, “Don’t Let Me Let You Down“, you’ll be scrambling to press replay on the whole album– as lyrically the final track looks to enter a new relationship after becoming jaded; essentially creating a perfectly flowing loop of narrative with each listen. LOYALS‘ debut album is a Pop-Rock gem in a sea of releases, thanks to the band’s commitment to throw 110% of themselves into the music, and their confidence to supplement the music artistically with zero pretentiousness. All in all, the band has created something tangibly familiar and relatable by bringing emotion to the forefront, while synthesizing something new by utilizing their taste as music fans to blend a variety of sounds into a bubbly, high soaring release.
LOYALS debut self-titled album is out THIS FRIDAY, 2/2, and with pre-order you’ll receive instant downloads of the tracks “Alright“, “Skylines“, and “Hold On“. Additionally, the guys have a couple of tour dates with Emery around the time of release that you wont want to miss– all listed below.
Upcoming Tour Dates w/Emery:
1/30 – Atlanta, GA @ Smith’s Old Bar
1/31 – Orlando, FL @ The Social
2/1 – Miami, FL @ Churchills
2/2 – Tampa, FL @ Crowbar
2/3 – Jacksonville, FL @ Murray Hill Theatre
2. Mind Up
3. Bail Out
5. Hold On
8. To The Top
9. Never Too Far Gone
12. Don’t Let Me Let You Down
Last modified: January 29, 2018