Coming in to review Reside‘s sophomore EP The Light That You Saw, the words of vocalist Liam Guinane were ringing in my head. In discussion about the most recently released single “Replace Me”, Liam had talked about a state of duality, and how while he was feeling dark, he was also trying to encourage himself out of it. I took that idea with me as I reviewed, thinking about the attempts for positivity as the ‘light’ that was seen, or at least hoped for, along the way.
Reside as a band have been on the tips of many tongues recently, pulling off some pretty impressive sets at Evelyn Hotel and Cherry Bar among others. They come across as individuals believing in the same message, as well as believing in their band. They vibe like a band that put creative expression and a DIY flavour above everything, and have incredibly unique ways of promoting themselves/sharing news on social media. I was surprised to learn that the lettering of the EP’s cover was letters stuck to the wall, for an example. The Melbourne based band features Liam Guinane on vocals, Ariel Johnson and Will Eggleton on guitar, Sale Brown on bass, and Dylan Houston on drums.
Though the tracks of the quintet’s debut EP Closing Doors hadn’t grabbed me with ferocity, the infectious “Replace Me” seemed to set up camp in my brain. I was keen to dive into the EP to see more of this duality in action, as well as explore the unreleased tracks.
EP opener “Brevity” is solemn from its opening notes, soon painting a tumbling and cascading experience of overwhelm. The questioning of an experience they’re going through, and coupling “I’ll be fine” with “‘Cause I could be nothing” feels like that duality in action, and is relatable for anyone who has had to work their ass off to heave themselves out of a dark place.
A billowing and suspended request to be set on fire in order to be able to “see the light again” paints a considerable picture of darkness, where a painful shove is needed now – we’re done with subtleties. The relatively short track comes across as a definite dance between fading into a nondescript existence, and comes across as a turning point or at least a point of decision to take one of these paths, or have the path choose the protagonist.
Immediately flowing into “Solus”, I feel like the two combined could be a single track, and I appreciate the feel of an ongoing musical story with separate acts. In comparison to the floatier on-the-precipice vibe in “Brevity”, “Solus” hits harder musically and it comes across like a dive into the guts of what’s going on.
Fittingly, it’s musically heavier and Liam’s light questioning of “Brevity” sharpens like a knife to tear the experience apart in “Solus”. It’s easy to fall into the emotion of the track, which comes across as a pained “What do you want from me?” question of life. It becomes lyrically clear why the track is titled as it is:
“Can you hear me?
Am I not as alone as I feel?”
Over the space of “Solus”‘ 2:59 duration, I’ve felt pangs of empathy and rode the waves of frustration, loneliness, and anger. This is one heck of a good song, and the fight to overcome the darkness they exist within is palpable. The fierce pre-choruses are static and noise-laden, falling into more pleading choruses; asking to be understood or at least trusted as they navigate the mess they’re in.
The second verse is almost guaranteed to get comparisons to Movements in terms of vocal style (a little screaming before spoken word) and sound. But regardless of similarity, the legitimate emotion searing through this speaks genuinely, and it’s easy to ‘feel something’ (see what I did there?). The ending is huge and robustly belts out the frustration of one who is stuck.
The EP’s third track “In This Moment” is impressively expressed by its music video and the metaphor of ever increasing water. “In this moment I feel helpless”, says Liam, while laying stationary in a bathtub, visible from the shoulders upward. Most likely aware of the situation he’s in, the viewer soon sees the water underneath him and notices the quickly filling tub. It might be uncomfortable to some – the way it’s just Liam on his lonesome, just laying there while the water keeps increasing – but it’s completely apt for how it feels when you’re sinking into a state of depression. The doors of help and possibility close all around, leaving you wondering what to do or if there’s anything at all that can be done.
The momentary struggles of realisation of what he’s existing in are expressed at the chorus, where it seems like Liam/the protagonist suddenly understands that he’s been abandoned and no one’s coming to rescue him.. while he continues to drown. I can only assume the flower petals are positive platitudes that offer no change to the ever climbing water level. In terms of duality, the only hint at something beyond this suffocating state is the line “The open core I will rebuild”.
As a song, “In This Moment” as a title in itself might hint at the fact that everything is temporary. The slower pace feels dense and it’s easy to feel weighed down by the song and its mood. The guitar all but cries at times through this track, and the noisiness of crashing cymbals coupled with the heaviness and Liam’s proclamations feels like overwhelm in a nutshell. The entire track screams “What now?!” to me, courtesy of all parts, and offers up a sense of fighting for something more than this stuckness.
In comparison to what we’ve heard so far, “Replace Me” is such a beautiful arrival of hope, having me question if this is a chronological telling of events. Even if hope is just fleeting. Before a word is even uttered, it’s brighter and more celebratory. While still keeping the crashing noise of the cymbals, sparse moments of tender guitar and explaining vocals feel like an exhalation in the aftermath of a tough time.
The metaphor/theme of light shows up repeatedly here, as well as using water again to represent struggle. The music video created by Reside with Tavis Pinnington literally uses light as we watch a woman moving through her home and facing herself.
“Replace Me” seems to continue the story of being left (whether a breakup with a partner or another instance), and the aftermath of sitting in loneliness and not necessarily knowing where they belong – willing to give up their place in life completely.
The “Give up, life moves on” chorus is where duality is most obvious; being something encouraging as well as negative. And there’s a lot more that could be said about that – including the idea that being alone and facing yourself and what you’re going through can be a significant opportunity for growth. I’d originally understood “give up” to be something of a defeated perspective, but we can give up on self-pity and other patterns that aren’t beneficial too. We can give up the idea that emotional pain is permanent, and give up thinking we’re destined to sink into it and drown. While we’re stuck or hurting, for whatever reason, life DOES move on, and even when stuck, we’re pulled along somehow.
The track hits most beautifully at the last chorus for me; seeming to fully spread its wings and glide down in comparison to tense effort earlier in the track. It’s like empathy and acceptance toward someone having a hard time, but also pushing them forward and reassuring them that it’ll be okay, even if they have moments of darkness. I love that each member of Reside combined craft this heartwarming experience together, as well as created something genuine in the state of imperfectly getting back on your feet.
After the hope of “Replace Me”, we’re back into something frustrated and dark again, with a punk pace and sense of wildness with the fifth track of the EP, “Gloom.”. Notice the full stop in the title; something that caught my eye with its vibe of definitiveness. Together with the punk sound and the title combined, I’m feeling a ‘fuck it, everything is shit’ vibe of giving up at trying at all and instead reveling in how bad things are.
This seems to be backed by the lyrics, detailing the rejection and disconnect from everything. The position of this track works in terms of an organic experience of depression; it’s not necessarily a straight line of feeling good again, but can be an ongoing rollercoaster ride featuring “I’ll be alright”s or “I want to die“s.
The track is a search for something better, using the metaphor of colour. It sonically takes on the experience of having waves crashing over you repeatedly, with the protagonist feeling helpless underneath them. In a sense it seems internal as well as global, looking out at life around them as well as feeling their own personal discomfort.
“I’m not sure what to believe in anymore
But I think we need a miracle to get us out of this”
The Light That You Saw finishes with “The Light That I Found”, seeming to be a retrospective track. The narrator/protagonist has been left alone, existed through the rollercoaster, and is now on the other side of it. It’s gentle and connective at times, having an honest conversation with the one that had left them, and also goes heavier into some of the more damaging elements they’ve lived through as a result of what happened.
Musically, Reside seem to have created the happy-sad dynamic with the choruses that curl from being anthemic to something that turns downward. The light and relaxed track isn’t one that’s easily summed up due to so much going on emotionally. It’s not a happy ending, and the protagonist is still struggling, but there’s more potential now with him not as stuck.
The Light That You Saw comes across very real to me. There’s no fairytale happy endings here, because it’s not an instant fix or buzz of happiness that happens when we try to move on from something. Does this realness translate musically though? “Solus” was a kickass track, and the peak of possibility in “Replace Me” was an important moment of the EP. It was with the return into a downward mood with “Gloom.” that the EP lost its grip on me, and “The Light That I Found” as an ending didn’t hit hard enough or hopeful enough for me.
I guess this is the risk of expressing something with shades of both light and dark; it’s not necessarily going to be saccharinely, movingly beautiful nor deeply dark and soul crushing. It’s going to be something of a dance between the two, which demands for the listener to keep their focus on where the needle on that metaphorical gauge is sitting at any particular moment. With this, The Light That You Saw comes across as something very realistic. I think most of us would have been urging ourselves to ‘be fine’ when we don’t feel it, at some point or another. The EP is more a snapshot of being a heartbroken human more than it is any kind of genre-challenging musically-mindblowing collection of songs. Reside seem to be expressing who they are through their music, whether anyone likes it or not.
Honest lyricism that offers a fly-on-the-wall perspective of experiencing and dealing with heartache, with echoes of self-encouragement and a desperation for something more than darkness.
Though instrumentally interesting, I feel like Reside have focused upon the lyrical/emotional meaning of the EP more than created experimentally with their music. I think stronger instrumentation focus would offer more opportunity for staying power for the songs.