It wasn’t that long ago when it seemed like Eat Your Heart Out were being positioned as Fearless Records’ next big flagship act. It was only a brief moment, but wheeling them out almost immediately for a slot on the last Punk Goes Pop album shows a level of faith that so few new bands never feel the benefit of. Granted, their take on Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You wasn’t all that much of a standout, but as far as greasing the wheels goes, it seems to have done the job; they’re currently riding on some considerable exposure, and like fellow Aussie pop-punks Stand Atlantic not even a year earlier, debut album Fluorescence arrives with some healthy expectations of shaking up the scene, even only by a small amount.
The main difference, though, is that there’s a tangible amount of spark and verve to Stand Atlantic that doesn’t quite make up for the fact they’ve not formed their own distinct sound yet, but it justifies their place within the scene; with Eat Your Heart Out, they might have sufficed around the genesis of this wave of pop-punk when a broader purging of negative experiences and emotions was a relatively easy way to pick up steam, but now, it just feels tired and drained of the appeal it could have. That’s not to say that Fluorescence is totally bad, especially when the band have a melodic backbone as robust as they do, but to pick out a vivid standout feature is more effort than it’s worth, if it can even be done at all.
It’s not like what they’re going for isn’t a noble effort either, and at the very least, there are pieces that seem as though they could be fashioned into something workable. The key feature in this case is the guitar tone, operating on a more grounded basis than a lot of pop-punk thanks to a heavier snarl clearly drawing from elements of emo and grunge, and when used to back the surging, skyscraping melodies of Carousel and Heavy With Envy, it’s an overall sound that’s pleasant to listen to while still having a firepower that prevents it from being inconsequential. And you can really see that that’s the idea that Eat Your Heart Out were looking to build on the most; there’s definitely a darker feeling to this album, and while that largely comes across without a problem, the more pertinent matter is whether it can be compelling, and that’s the first big hurdle that the band trip over. There are moments that work like the snaking guitar line of Closer To The Sun which picks up some decent classic rock swagger, but it’s largely offset by a prevailing blandness that comes through in Daydream or Same Stars, or the ill-advised return to the acoustic pop-punk balladry of Pear Tree that had seemingly died out by now. There’s definitely power and gumption here, but rarely do Eat Your Heart Out know how to make the most of it, and thus, Fluorescence winds up so much less momentum than it should have, especially given how hard the band are vying for this more direct sound.
It’s not like this can’t work either – there are examples on this very album that prove that’s not true – but it’s hard to become invested when a good chunk of it feels uninspired and weighed down by a lack of original ideas coming to the fore. The writing is a fine example of this, with Caitlyn Henry using this as a vehicle to chronicle her growth and maturation over the past year, something which she’s perfectly capable of delivering with her grittier vocal style. That’s all good on paper, but the writing feels so generalised and lacking in the necessary oomph needed to stick, clearly wanting to get darker and more realistic but unwilling to forgo the necessary wider appeal that pop-punk naturally has. Even when they do stick the landing like on Blinded, it can feel borderline coincidental given how rarely Eat Your Heart Out pull anything out with deeper resonance, and that only serves to limit the appeal of an album already struggling in that regard.
That’s not to say that they’ll never get there; they might just scrape by here, but Fluorescence has a couple of moments and features that, if built on and doubled down upon, could see Eat Your Heart Out make at least a few waves within the current pop-punk scene. But in truth, that feels like a way off from where they are now, largely sticking to uninteresting, formulaic ideas that seldom coalesce into anything beyond the sum of their parts. It’s a disappointment for sure, and one that feels like yet another band crumbling under the pressure of the hype thrust upon them. With that being the case, it’s easy to want to be charitable here, but a generally forgettable end result means that it probably isn’t worth it.
For fans of: Tonight Alive, Boston Manor, Stand Atlantic
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Fluorescence’ by Eat Your Heart Out is released on 17th May on Fearless Records.