By: Grace Koennecke, Columns Editor
Atlantic Records, Warner Music Australia; 2022
Key tracks: “Hard to Believe,” “At the End of the Day,” “Permanent Price,” “Missing Out,” “Hurts Me”
Wallows, comprised of Dylan Minnette, Braeden Lemasters and Cole Preston, made their mark on the music scene in 2019 with their debut album Nothing Happens, which was the quintessential coming-of-age album for listeners and fans at the time.
Now, the trio is back with an even more experimental album than before. Tell Me That It’s Over is the band struggling through the most challenging of situations: heartbreak, growing older and wondering what the future holds, especially after a massive pandemic put a stop to their creativity for three years.
Read more: Album Review: Wallows – Nothing Happens
There’s a lot to unpack with this album, as it is sonically worlds apart from its predecessor. At times, the band stretches itself too thin with their production, and at its peak, the album accomplishes their goal of ripping out the hearts of those who are willing to open their ears.
Tell Me That It’s Over opens with “Hard to Believe,” which is by far one of the best songs out of the 10 tracks listed. “Like I just want to breathe, is that so hard to believe” is Minnette reflecting on his life in the spotlight, trying to find the space to release all the anxiety and cooped up frustration that comes with being a musician, and in his case, an actor as well. The production makes it feel like you’re lifting off the ground, traveling to the space that Minnette craves for. As the song progresses, it increasingly grows louder and louder, symbolizing the increasing weight of one’s worries and emotions that have been bottled up for far too long.
Luckily, the feelings of being trapped slowly fade as “At the End of the Day” puts Lemasters’ vocals on full-display, which many Wallows fans love to see. Another standout on the album, it’s a love song, but one where Lemasters regrets letting go of his lover. With synths and wind-chimes reminiscent of the ‘80s and heartfelt, emotionally raw lyrics, this track will easily bring you to tears. “At the end of the day, I’m not far away, I’m staying” is the main message of the song, proving how willing the singer is to give up everything for the sake of love.
“Permanent Price” comes later down the line, with The Regrettes’ Lydia Night, who happens to be Minnette’s partner, accompanying the band on the track. Finally, this is where we see an actual love song, which perfectly encompasses the relationship between Night and Minnette. It’s a pleasant surprise to hear the two harmonize, both admitting that they find solace in each other. With trumpets and isolated vocals in the background, this song is flawless and achieves the newfound theme of seeing the person you love for who they are, and not being afraid of that.
Shortly following is “Missing Out,” which is the band confessing they’re too afraid to put themselves out there, especially when their feelings are involved. While the track is all over the place with excessive guitars and drumming, it does encapsulate how it feels when you’re trying not to expose your feelings for someone. “You’ll be missing out on a beautiful life / Guess we set it up just to burn it down” is a striking lyric in the track, with regret at the forefront. The end is the most significant part of the song, with Lemasters repeating, “Maybe that’s alright / Maybe that’s okay / It just hurts ‘cause I / I can hear you say / We’ll be missing out,” emphasizing the memories of the past that still haunt him.
One of the final tracks, “Hurts Me,” is the call and response that nobody expected Wallows to be able to pull off. With that popular ‘80s production again, Minnette and Lemasters match each other’s vocals, with Lemasters using his part to acknowledge his outward emotions, while Minette uses his lyrics to hint at the inner turmoil the song is trying to poke at. “I won’t lie (I’m always running away) / I don’t need it (So I really can’t complain) / I don’t mind (I’ll have to accept that I) / I don’t need it ‘cause it hurts me” describes how the urge to give into a past lover and the flaws that they both have butt heads with each other. While they don’t want to admit their downfalls, they at the same time believe crawling back to their past relationships will help fix their insecurities. Overall, it’s a quirky, playful song and reflects how inner and outer emotions can affect one’s perception themselves.
Wallows second album is significant, but lacks some of the luster that Nothing Happens continues to possess. Yet, it’s an overall exquisite example of a band experimenting with their sound, refusing to give into the mainstream trajectory that similar artists face in the alternative genre.