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Having your debut full-length selected as a fledgling label’s first release is a great honour, but it could also be perceived to a source of considerable pressure for a band. Fortunately for the upstarts at Greyscale Records, Sydney pop-punkers Our Last Days have proven themselves more than worthy of the honour, taking that pressure and turning it into a musical diamond known as Keep Safe.
A remarkably assured debut, Keep Safe sees these young Aussie road warriors team up with noted producer Jay Maas (Citizen, Defeater, Title Fight, The Menzingers) to create an emotive record, home to considerably more depth and variation than their pop-punk origins might have you expect.
Opener Graves lures you in with its bouncy intro riff, easing you into a temporary sense of sugar-coated security that is shattered the moment the raw emotion of Matt Doherty’s desperate vocals lock in with the ominous post-hardcore instrumentation. It’s a combination that’ll have you thinking of all the best bits on early Thrice records until you’re shaken awake by the frenzied 47 seconds of straight-ahead punk rock titled The Distance, in an early example of how Keep Safe toys with your expectations with some ingenious sequencing.
Emo (the ’90s kind, not the guyliner kind) is not a dirty word to these Sydney lads and the marauding, spacious mid-tempo stomper Too Much, Too Soon and ‘lighters-in-the-air’ introspection of Restless display added layers of depth to Our Past Days’ songcraft, with the former’s slow-burn and gruff soaring vocals channeling Toronto legends Grade and the latter unashamed honesty and simple, atmospheric instrumentation placing them somewhere in between Jimmy Eat World and Balance and Composure.
As with similarly stylistically inclined Aussies, Trophy Eyes’ debut Mend, Move On, Keep Safe is certainly a darker affair than many may have anticipated and Our Past Days’ willingness to embrace a more authentic version of themselves, pays real dividends. This is particularly true of the confessional I Still Fear You in My Bones.
For all the artistic growth displayed on Keep Safe, Our Past Days haven’t dispensed with pop-punk altogether, and fans of earworm single Bloom Where You’re Planted will be pleased that despite the general darkness, there’s still a sense of hope for the future present on Keep Safe. Tired Eyes and Split My Brain provide the perfect chance to get your pogo on in the pit.
As with most debuts, there’s a few tracks that miss-the-mark for my ears (namely Numb and Sleep and Stir), but when they’re offset by songs as great as Graves, Too Much, Too Soon and dynamic post-hardcore meets rock closer Daylight it goes largely unnoticed.
Our Past Days have done so much more than keep safe with this debut release, instead they’ve pushed themselves to become a band absolutely worthy of being the first signing of what promises to be an iconic Aussie indie label.