Sydney ratbags, Hurst, are back with their second EP Sadface. and boy am I happy to hear it. It’s been a few weeks since we last heard from the alt-rock quartet; last leaving us with a nice treat they call “Purple and Green”. The two singles leading up the EP’s release, also featured on the EP, were a real ode to careless nature and free-living. Sadface. keeps itself in check and waves the same flag as Hurst have twice before.
Hurst’s thumping rhythm and groovy beats are almost frustrating as I want to sit still and listen, but I simply cannot. Vocalist Ana Veira classifies the music as “raw, punchy and exhilarating” and with only six tracks to prove this, the band has done a good job. My air drums got a real thrashing on my first few listens to Sadface. and a few more in the listens that followed.
The EP opens to a familiar track, titled “Rattle Kids”, serving as an introduction to what Hurst stands for and where they come from. The track opens with a fun build up of tension, eventually releasing with a “Hey!” that makes you want to say it right back. Almost immediately after, I’m bopping my head along to swaying rhythm of Ana and fellow band member Jake Bisognin’s guitar strumming. The track is filled with fun instrument playing, included but not limited to twangs, plucks and smacks. Possibly the most important instrument, Ana uses her voice and tone to really sculpt a fun sing-a-long that I fail to fault.
Now up next is their second released single “Purple and Green” which admittedly brought a smirk to my face when going into my first listen. If you’re interested in this particular song, feel free to read up on my earlier review of the track as it has left a good lasting impression on me. I’ve stated previously that “Purple and Green” feels like a real “ass-kicking anthem” and to this day, I stand by that. If you want to give the bad vibes in your day a big middle finger, “Purple and Green” is the right way to do it. Now being more accustomed to the track, I can’t help but lose myself in Ana’s vocal melodies; a skill which she uses with almost surgical precision. In terms of the EP’s structure, this track does lend itself well to the flow of Sadface. and paints a good picture early on of how kick-ass this EP truly is.
Closing in on the halfway mark of Sadface., we hear “Conversation”. This track is a little slower, a little grittier and a little cleansing on the pallet. I find some real credit is due to drummer Nick Zammit for helping carry the listener between the shifts in this song without it feeling jarring or unpleasant. It wasn’t until we lost bassist Ben Zamor towards the end that I truly felt just how impactful his contribution to these jams was. Again, the track feels fresh but reeks of that rough Hurst punk influence, an asset that can easily be the downfall of many artists who lack it. This track is punchy. This track is raw. This track is killer.
“Metaphysical” is our fourth piece from Hurst and this is the tail end now. The track greets us with the very classic strumming that I’ve mentioned earlier. As I’m writing this I’m hit with a sense of conflict. The EP impresses me more and more as each song goes by and I’m left rolling my eyes with a chuckle; how can they continue topping each track? How can I continue writing without it being purely praise? For a second EP, Hurst have really struck the right chord, demonstrating how to be tasteful with a release and leave listeners thirsty for more. Again, as I’ve written earlier, the lyrical patterns of Ana’s are something to be talked about. The way each line jumps back and forth like a skipping child, like a weaving fish or even a bouncing metronome, is admirable and downright fun. Sadface. is the most fun I’ve had with an EP in quite some time and “Metaphysical” is the best example of Hurst’s collective talent; everyone shines on this track.
Having to follow up from the previous track, we have “Margins” and with no doubt in my mind, it will follow up nicely. This track takes a running start and meets up with us along our own journey. On my first listen through, the repetitive chorus did fool me by making me think the music had gotten stuck. I quickly realised, a digital track wouldn’t skip like a record, much to my amusement. While it is anecdotal, I feel this is an appropriate summary of the feeling this EP creates; I laughed audibly at my own foolishness due to the mood Sadface. has put me in.
I think “Margins” is a prime example of something fun coming from something sad and if we all can’t laugh about our downfalls then what is really the point? I love sad music personally, but I have more love for music that can make me happy while discussing sad things. My favourite part about “Margins” personally is the production; there are lots of little musical gems to be found within this song. Give the track a few spins and listen out for all the little background sounds.
Finishing up Sadface is the track “Colourful Misfits” which is probably the most unique sound out of them all. The start reminds me a lot of spoken word, which is a very cool art form. I think the verse structure is a bold choice and it’s not that similar to Hurst’s other tracks but it makes for a very interesting listen. There’s a wild guitar solo that had me putting down my air-drumsticks and reaching for my air-guitar, with which I’m a little rusty but it got the job done. I’m a big believer of being your own person and having a self-identity, a theme that Hurst tends to preach. This is a song for the ratbags, a song for the weirdos, a song for anyone who wants to be a colourful misfit.
All in all, Hurst have tackled the difficult feat of a second release and smashed all expectations. Sadface proves to be a fresh and fun take on the bands sound and identity without straying too far from their roots. At a nice, bite size six-track length, Sadface really works as an exciting snippet of what lies ahead for the band. While it is far from long, it definitely doesn’t leave the listener feeling starved of content; it’s a perfect middle ground. Each track has it’s own feeling and it’s own head-bobbing rhythm, none feel too similar to the last but they relate well enough to each other. After many listens, I still enter Sadface with a smirk and leave with an even bigger craving for another listen.
Fun music that’s impossible not to dance to. Crunching instrumentation. Positive feeling about negative themes. Short but sweet.