Song of the Day

Tragic Hearts, “Better Off,” from Daylight (Self-Released, 2020)

The Torontonian melodic punks otherwise known as Tragic Hearts have returned with a new EP. Daylight finds the band revisiting and concluding an exceptionally literate song cycle launched on 2018’s Ex Vita Morte EP.

Following a narrative arc centered around a dissolved relationship, their latest finds our protagonist a bit further along in the healing process. Thematically, the restorative and inspired turn is bolstered by slightly sunnier instrumentation. On its face, the new EP is best exemplified in their lead single and our Song of the Day, “Better Off."

Doing my homework backwards, I found that Tragic Hearts is cobbled together from ex-members The Artists’ Life, Closet Monster, and The Victim Party. Even with a clear punk pedigree, managing to live up to their maudlin but passionate moniker is still no small feat. 

Yet, the Ontario-based punks live just north of sad-sack territory and “Better Off” makes us feel like their on the mend, at least lyrically. Starting with a half-minute tension build of soaring guitar melodies and increasingly urgent drumwork, a well-placed divebomb ushers in hyper-melodic and driving pop punk.

Eschewing the overly polished end of genre, Tragic Hearts have a far more mature and organic sound that lives closer to the Movielife, Broadway Calls, and Spanish Love Songs. Lyrically, they certainly know their way around a melody, casting chorus-worthy earworms across the verses.

Also present, though, is the requisite sneer of a band like the criminally underrated Osker or Polar Bear Club. The bass is prominent and active, weaving itself under a huge guitar sound that highlights just how much the production is part of the EP’s charm.

They’d be a cracking addition to the next Fest lineup, whenever that’ll be, and the live setting would likely lend the proceedings a bit more teeth, if that’s your poison. 

The final minute or so ties together nicely, riding a defiantly optimistic vocal and understated solo into increasingly urgent playing from the rhythm section. By the end of “Better Off," the dirt on your shoulders has been wiped without really even trying, the deceptively intrusive bent of optimism is a welcome retreat from their previous work.

A band like Tragic Hearts, though, seems to understand nuance and mitigate heartbreak with a dash of subtlety. Much like the Wonder Years captured the wistful and suburban hearts of pop-punk some 10 years ago, Tragic Hearts shoot to soundtrack the other side of lovelorn melonchalia… I guess this is growing up. 

This Ontario group is now “yours to discover," friends. Enjoy.

Tagged: tragic hearts

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