Being the prime example of a contemporary post-hardcore group, Our Last Night have spent a copious amount of time honing their sound. Choosing to focus on releasing admittedly solid covers of anything from current pop hits to 60’s rock classics the last two years, these hard-working fellas took their time in pushing new original material out and the result is a definitive seven song canonical Our Last Night release.
Choosing to forego releasing an album and instead an EP is where ‘Selective Hearing’ especially excels. With this decision, the content we are provided never gets monotonous or stale, instead allowing for a focus on being killer, not sneaking in any filler. Picking up where 2015’s ‘Younger Dreams’ left off, this iteration of the band dabbles in pop flourishes and production styling but doesn’t leave out the aggression either. If anything, the band have never sounded this balanced. “Broken Lives” is proof positive as opener, its ambience giving way to hooky lead riffs, an inspired and upbeat rock chorus and even slipping in a few screamed lines. The charm of ‘Selective Hearing’ is that it’s lyrical content is based around well-known and recognized phrases (hence the song titles) primarily but what would be an annoying political overtone instead ends up feeling ambiguous enough to add an air of subtlety to the words being delivered. For that reason I can forgive the allusions to the “shitty economy”. What else is fueling good art right now anyway, right?
The following track practically gets its own paragraph for being both the technical title track of ‘Selective Hearing’ and also, one of the best damned pieces of music this band has ever let loose onto the Earth. ‘Tongue Tied’ is THE song radio deserves but isn’t cool enough to spin. The message of feeling so closely observed that you can’t speak your mind rings volumes in modern-day society. Again, this EP gets political and even social, which is where the next few tracks come in. However, none of them are this irresistible (nor get a drum solo).
While I can’t whatsoever consider “Free Radicals” and “Caught In The Storm” filler nor necessarily bad tracks, their concepts based around their titles fall rather flat. “Free Radicals” feels more like Fox News’ attempt to broaden what they suppose millennial vocabulary consists of, “dude” while “Caught In The Storm” is a clean attempt at divising a metaphor for “life happens” when old friends drift apart. The goals of these tracks are achieved and delivered just fine, they’re just a bit er, off, that’s all. I will say though, that Trevor’s and Woody’s vocals in these two are noticeably filled with more range. Covering JT and Ed Sheeran works alright I guess, huh?
Thankfully, “Ivory Tower” brings some welcome vitriol into the picture, potentially being the angriest I’ve heard Our Last Night ever be. True, the content itself in this track could be a little deeper but who hasn’t ever felt some contempt toward an individual they believe to be arrogant? The subject is relatable and because of that, I truly felt the cruel hand that beats in this one. I have no doubts when played live, this might bring some pits into the fray. “Common Ground”, on the other hand, is a song of unity and inspiration. Thankfully, it actually sounds that way too.
As odd a title as it is, “Ghost In The Machine” lands right behind “Tongue Tied” for me and it closes the record on a great note. ‘Selective Hearing’ wasn’t so much an experimental record as it was inclusive of the pop-oriented Our Last Night that listeners have gotten used to over the last 3 years. In this track however, we get a simple yet effective chorus and an R&B section that is both a first and totally welcome in the band’s formula. I haven’t a clue what the song itself really means, but as any good closer should do, it made me desire more material from the artists at hand. Excellent, boys.
Our Last Night releasing an EP of new material more often than not is something I could get used to and honestly, am hoping for. Proving with this release that their sound is still plenty fresh (Was that actual METALcore I heard in “Ivory Tower”?) and catchy tunes are their way, I think fans will agree that these boys are good at what they do and need to keep it up. Speaking of, any islands other than Oak you want to sing about soon? Please?