Reviews are tricky at times. I want to share the essence of the music that’s been created, but I also want to give room for other people to have their own experience with it, without spoiling it too much with my own reflections. Melbourne’s Stuck Out have made this tough for me, because I went all in on the review of You Won’t Come Home and my experience is therefore pretty raw and real in the process.
I’m new to the five piece, who refer to themselves as alternative rock, yet feel pop punk, aside from the (very welcome) fact that their music is full of genuine emotion, instead of painting sadness in upbeat colours. The band formed in 2015 and have Joshua Walker on vocals, Ian Browney and Bren Dugan on guitar, Sheldon Schuyler on bass and Lachy Lydiard on drums. Stuck Out seem to make emotive music that presents itself matter-of-factly and openly, yet easily sinks in under your skin in familiarity, as though it’s your own emotions being presented in song. The band are a fresh signing to Greyscale Records, who’ll be sharing You Won’t Come Home when it releases on 9th February.
You Won’t Come Home opens with “Stitch”, which feels assertive, determined, and high energy from the outset, but soon enough a curtain peels back to reveal emotional honesty in rich and self-reflective vocals. The track tells the story of a guy who admits his brokenness and his endless struggle to get what he wants in life. The honesty and passion of the track is endearing on all fronts. With an ominous guitar tuning shift that flows into the next track, it’s clear that more is coming for this ’empty shell that’s filled with fear’. This connection between tracks seems like a clever way to show us that You Won’t Come Home is a continued story, as opposed to separate or unrelated tracks.
On “Self-Doubt”, we’re taken into a chapter of new love, where ‘keep going’ vibing riffs and beats pull this flawed guy head first into his fixation. She brightens his life, yet he doubts that someone like him can keep this. “Self-Doubt” is a love song for the insecure, as most clearly reflected in a tense bridge, where they fall into the entanglement of working out how they can get through this. The pace is kept high, having the track feel like a heart-racing blend of infatuation and anxiety; the freedom of having someone love you and say “I don’t want anyone else” while you’re petrified of fucking it all up. Layered vocals are an impressive end.
On the other side of doubt-drenched new love is allowing yourself to get lost in another and “Grin” is this. The rhythms and riffs of “Grin” feel like losing yourself in thought as well as losing yourself in love. Even though he’s lost in her, he’s reflective of their attachment and being entwined with her, having eyes only for her but also moved by waves of fear.
‘Don’t let this go, I need a reason to live.’
It was around “Grin” that I became deeply transfixed by this story that it was clear Stuck Out were sharing. I too found myself lost; with the angsty riffs, beats that felt apprehensive, vocal nervousness, and then open choruses that feel like being suspended in mid-air, literally buoyed by their moments together and every interaction, with that self-doubt fading away in their tender and intimate early morning conversations.
When “Weight” began, more melancholic and aching from the beginning, my immediate thought was ‘Oh no’. This minute and a half of music is a tense interlude where nothing is known with any certainty; he’s wondering where she is and what’s happening. After emotional immersion in the previous tracks, this is tough going, with thick beats, melodics of wondering, and a feeling of looped ‘what if?’s. A climactic drum focus echoes the ‘Please let everything be okay’, yet sense-of-doom heaviness, and I find myself crying in empathy of a formerly ’empty guy’ who finally let himself fall into this love, living and breathing all that is her. And he waits, with this weight. It’s heavy and it hurts.
And with “Fade Away” the following track, an answer to ‘Is everything okay?’ comes, making this fifth track hit even harder than it did as a standalone single. This story is heartbreaking, and the You Won’t Come Home title cuts like a knife when the trepidatious love of his anxious life has been hit by a car.
He blames himself for being asleep, berates himself for everything he didn’t do but could have done. The pace of the track feels all too fast, with things happening around him like a blur and reflecting the question of ‘is she okay?’ and the refusal of this, wanting to just be at home together. It’s heartaching and moving and the questioning melodic guitar, pauses, heavy beats and ‘but you won’t come home’ is agonising.
Immersed in the story now and a mess of tears, the final track “Linger” was tough to listen to. Gentle guitar and reminiscing grows into heavy realisation of having to cope without her. Grief floods the track and we ache along with Stuck Out, in pained guitars, emotionally wrecking vocals, and heart-tearing beats. My god, this is so beautiful yet awful at the same time, as the instruments fade out and we’re left in heavy silence.
‘Home isn’t a place, no it’s a state of mind
I need to feel something from you
So I can feel alive’
Emotionally roughed up, I’m recognising how my initial ‘eh’ feeling about pop punk in general completely vanished once I allowed myself into the story Stuck Out are sharing. To me these six tracks are a precious snapshot of emotional vulnerability, and the risk of loving someone.
Intense and beautiful as well as deftly created by a talented and connected band, this gets full marks from me.
You Won’t Come Home is available from all of the usual places on 9th February. In the meantime, pre-order it here: https://artistfirst.com.au/collections/greyscale-records or catch Stuck Out on tour with Stateside:
STUCK OUT TOUR DATES
SATURDAY FEB 10 – BANG NIGHTCLUB – MELBOURNE 18+
SUNDAY FEB 11 – WRANGLER STUDIOS – MELBOURNE AA
SUNDAY FEB 18 – BALD FACED STAG – SYDNEY LIC AA
FRIDAY FEB 23 – THE BRIGHTSIDE – BRISBANE 18+
SUN FEB 25 – 28 BERWICK STREET – BRISBANE AA
So fucking well done. I unexpectedly lost myself in this, had my heart broken, and loved every minute of it. A tragic tale of an imperfect heart trying desperately to overcome fear.