Shangrilá – Love and Leaving EP (Review)

Sometimes it takes a while to truly come into your element. This is the case for Perth’s Shangrilá. After spending many years playing together and enjoying a good amount of success as the band Common Bond, the guys decided it was time for something new. They became Shangrilá, a new project for all of them, and released their debut EP Wither. Starting off as being predominately another heavy band and enjoying some more success coming off that EP, they decided to change it up even more. After spending their whole musical careers playing hardcore they are now stepping into more of a rock/alternative/punk based sound, and oh boy is it a welcome change. Shangrilá are Devyn Jupp (vocals, guitar), Jackson Macleod (guitar), Jarryd Buckland (bass), and Bodhi Carter-Tulk (drums/percussion).

After several months of writing, and recording (at Sumo Sound Studios by Tristan Sturmer), they are just about ready to release Love and Leaving. According to them, they are finally creating and performing music that represents them as a band. It features their brand new sound, some fantastic songwriting, and some stunning instrumentals. So without further ado, here’s all of my thoughts on it, track-by-track.

“Temptress” gets us off to an upbeat start, despite the melancholy lyrical content. The vocals are moody and gloomy, while still being melodically and tonally enjoyable. They help make the chorus very catchy, and match the mood of the instrumentals perfectly. The bass is integral, as the dark purring in the background makes the rhythm the mournful piece of tone-setting goodness that it is. The guitars add to this as well, with each and every note played feeling like it’s been thought about and pondered over for hours. All of it comes together to create a gorgeously catchy, anthemic, and moody track which draws you right in.

Lyrically the song is about loving someone to a point where it takes over. All you get from these feelings are negative effects, and you just can’t walk away. Taking from the lyrics, they want to paint a picture, and put you in their shoes, as the band says the song is taken from emotions they have all experienced together. With the moody instrumentals and glum vocals they want you to feel what they felt. To feel isolated, miserable, and manipulated, and to be purely stuck in an awful situation. Yet despite all the pain you are addicted. Addicted to this person that does nothing but hurt you, and as you bleed and cry you can’t help but think, “at least they’re still here.” The song tells a powerful story, a lot of which is conveyed in the instrumentals, just as well as the lyrics, and it sets the tone for the whole EP straight away.

 

“Waking Up” is like a bad dream. Wistful and dismal, the slower and melodic verses use the instrumentals to continue the mood. Ringing through the background with echoing notes and slow funky drumming, the instrumentals flow alongside the harmonic vocals. This builds to a big chorus full of power and anguish, as he vows to wake up, and get back to reality. This bridge is phenomenal, everything that goes into it is sensational. The distant seeming and flailing guitars, the small sneaky little drum fills and patterns, involving some juicy high-hat taps, and the bass setting the darkness over the top of it all, really bringing it home and finishing the song off huge as it transitions into the final chorus.

This song appears to be about being stuck in a nightmare. You wake up, surrounded in darkness, barely able to move, and you feel like you are being weighed down by something that you can’t see. Invisible demons holding you down, you struggle to get up and get away, as faint shadows, outlines, roam through the darkness, getting closer and closer to you. The verses really build this growing fear through the instrumentals, as you panic more and begin to wonder if this is even real.

Surreal sensations of terror and fascination, as you are terrified of what lurks in the dark, but also curious as to what your brain can come up with. Perhaps this scene that you’ve created in your head is reminiscent of life and all of your insecurities, as they move closer and you feel helpless. The eerie darkness turns to pure endless black, as something leaps at you and you snap awake, back in reality and dripping with sweat. The wake up call you needed perhaps. All of this and more comes through the music if you close your eyes and open your mind, and what this song does with this is something special.

Track three, “Pushing Through”, speaks of the horrible anxiety that comes with caring about people, and how mental instability can be horribly triggered by the smallest of things. A feeling of fear is projected onto you through this song, as the concerned vocals and suspenseful instrumentals put you on edge. The drums are inconsistent in pattern, constantly veering off the set beat to play fills whenever they see fit in the verses, and the bass keeps the dark undertones of the tracks alive. The fast string-work of the guitars sits in the background, but is very frantic and noticeable, as Shangrilá continue to bring it, instrumentally, and vocally.

“It starts just like a story, inside my head,
where everything I knew, and everyone is dead.”

Every aspect of this song contributes to making it what it is, especially the lyrics. The story it appears to tell is incredibly touching. It speaks of overthinking, panic attacks, and anxiety, as these qualities can take over someones mind for hours on end if triggered. Someone does something as simple as not answer a phone and you go into meltdown. They really want to share this feeling of frantic panic and stress with the music, and they nail it. As their mind runs wild, they start making up completely false scenarios in their head, each one designed purely to upset themselves even more than they already have.

“It feels like the world is standing still,
and it’s getting harder to keep pushing through.”

All you see is the worst, as your mind jumps to every single one of your worst possible fears. What is going on? What’s wrong? Why aren’t they picking up the phone? Where are they? Who are they with? You feel the cold sweat dripping down your back, your legs feel weak, and your arms start to shake. You know deep down that none of this could possibly be true, and there’s a perfectly reasonable reason why, but that doesn’t help one bit. And you know that even when this is resolved, it will happen again and again. As it keeps happening it gets harder each time. All this is really hammered home through the lyrics, and this song really hits hard.

“Love and Leaving” is a very short and gloomy song. The guitars and bass play softly in the background, as Devyn sings about being let down. You open yourself up to people, and they make false promises. They say they’ll be there, and as it reassures you for a moment you know that when it comes down to it they’ll be nowhere to be seen. They’ll leave you behind. The pain behind this comes through the vocals, as it sounds like Devyn is hurting as he sings, and the emotion is evident.

“Look me in the eyes and say you’ll be there,
another word, another way to say, I’ll let you down again.”

The final track off this simply grouse EP is “Stay”. The vocals hit their absolute peak here, as the choruses hold some of the most impassioned vocals in the EP. The song flirts with fully unleashing in the chorus throughout Love and Leaving, and this is where it finally does so. They give everything they have left in this song, and seem to let go any energy and emotion they had left. The verses vary in tempo, but each is as mournful and frustrated as the last. The bridge is hauntingly beautiful, and the instrumentals continue to deliver in high form, as the song explores troubles in a relationship.

“Stay, now watch me throw it away. Please keep me in your arms.”

The lyrics delve into this, and make you feel their anguish, as the uncertainty of the failing relationship drives them mad. It puts you in their shoes as you listen and makes it relatable. You know it’s your own fault that it’s falling apart, and this thought is tearing you apart. Sleep is a myth, as you lay awake thinking about ways to fix it. The promises you made and how you broke them haunt you, as the final verses and choruses are filled with regret. It’s all your fault. You stare them in the eyes and beg them to stay, admitting the blame, all you want is to make it work. In your eyes you can see they have made up their mind already, it’s over. The impending doom of this whole story and the heartbreak as the likely ending sets in, is portrayed effectively through the lyrics as well as the mood of the instrumentals. As I wrote in my notes: “Wow”.

When I first listened to this whole EP I was overjoyed. Right before I heard it I had been thinking to myself I want something kind of punky, kind of grungey, kind of heavy, but melodic and lovely at the same time. Kel sent me this and asked what I thought, and after listening it couldn’t have been more perfect. Little did I know on further listens how much I would love it. The stories it tells, the emotion it portrays, and the themes of relationships, anxiety, and hurting, that it touches on. It’s fantastic.

The instrumentals are integral, and are what make this so good. The moods and the images that they portray just through the instrumentals is phenomenal, and never fails to match the tone of the story the lyrics are telling at any time. The vocals are also fantastic, showing whatever emotion they need to based on the song, whether it be the wistfulness of “Temptress”, the pain of “Love and Leaving”, or the distress of “Stay”, they are unreal. Everything about Love and Leaving works, and it’s incredibly well put together and mixed. As it says in my notes: “This EP is fucking good.”

Love and Leaving comes out August 20, and you can pre-order here:

iTunes

Amazon

Google Play

 

Shangrilá - Love and Leaving
  • EP Rating
    10
The Good

Phenomenal storytelling. Gorgeous hard hitting lyrics. Mood setting instrumentals like you wouldn't believe. Structured perfectly. Great stuff.

The Bad

Nay

1010
Josh Hockey

Melbourne based music journalist who is ridiculously passionate about music, and spends every possible moment listening to it, seeing shows, and of course wearing the merch.

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