Like a Pokémon on a path of evolution, is new project Up Late the final form of what was once After Touch? (And Easy Life before it?) The self-described “boy-band with distortion pedals” features familiar faces nonetheless, with Max Pasalic on vocals and programming, Marcus Conti, Jack Rankin, and Jesse Mate-Gallo on guitars, and Jordan Pranic on drums.
If you could trace a path through the three projects, initial melodic hardcore edges have been progressively sanded smooth since There Can’t Be This Much Water in the Sky EP in 2017. With the impressive You Wish This Was About You EP (2018), the collective showed continued refinement and polish of techniques and sound. Now as Up Late and flexing hip hop rhythms fueled by the forces of heaviness, the five piece feel more at ease than ever.
The first taste of Up Late was actually with “Like This”. Shared only through Triple J Unearthed for their #DIYSupergroup competition, the teaser/song easily impressed, going down like a silky smooth liqueur. “Like This” also brought delectable grit at its midway point as well as in other select moments. The combination of hip hop and heavy was a surprise, but a good one.
“Friends” is Up Late’s official debut release (releasing today). Listening to it, I’m reminded of a moment I had in 2018 sitting in a gutter with Max Pasalic; hearing him speak about the vulnerable newness of talking about relationships in music, and breaching this with the After Touch EP You Wish This Was About You. He’d also been relatively new to singing at the time, having previously felt that it was something that was too hard to pursue, as well as the band not being all that interested in exploring the use of things like synth and effects; they were a ‘plug and play’ kind of act.
But since You Wish This Was About You, it seems that Max as well as the whole band’s confidence and determination has clearly flourished. “Friends” shines a closely-crafted and programmed focus upon singing, and so far the subject matter for Up Late seems to be relationship-centric.
“This is where I’m at though, it’s time for me to let go”
The “We can still be friends” hook of “Friends” forcibly penetrates the brain from beginning to end. It crunches like a reality-altering spell of sorts, and crumbling sound effects rumble home in finality. In between the cataclysmic crashes, flowing and liquidy verses describing an “Are we over?” moment are shared.
The dance between the two states/perspectives comes across like sinking into contemplation and conversation before boundaries are finally drawn. Toward “Friends”‘ end, a fuller and more climbing sound hits to reveal the gravity of the situation, before more and more space at the end reflects the disintegration of the relationship.
So far so good for Up Late! The band have succeeded at holding this non-hip hop listener’s attention with their sound’s balance across genres, and seem exceptionally comfortable in their newest evolution. Final form or not, this is a powerful one. Have a listen: