Review by Ellis Heasley
Dude Trips – You Are The Reason I Hate Leaving
Emo from Fraserburgh, Scotland
Releases August 6th via Venn Records
With a title like You Are The Reason I Hate Leaving, there aren’t many prizes for guessing this was going to be an emo record. Then again, that term seems to mean a lot of different things nowadays. In the case of the Scottish four-piece Dude Trips, it refers to a more modern punky take on the genre, reminiscent of bands like Spanish Love Songs, The Menzingers and Jimmy Eat World (if they even count as modern!). You Are The Reason… is the band’s fourth EP, and while purists and gatekeepers can sneer all they want, if you’re neither of those things you’ll probably find a lot to love in these 21 minutes of memorable hooks and vivid story-telling.
The band ease us in delicately with opener “Leaving” – a short, acoustic piece whose mournful lyrics seem to serve as something of a prequel to the record’s stunning closer “Gentle” (more on that later). After that, second track “Evergreen” gives us perhaps a clearer idea of what Dude Trips are all about. It takes the form of a melodic emotional break-up song, with a sizable All-American Rejects style pop-punk influence on display in particular. The vocal harmonies and interplay on this track are lovely, and remain a highlight throughout the record. So do the lead vocal performances, handled here by bassist Jamie Mathers and shared across the EP with guitarist Shaun Ross. Musically speaking, all four of them bring their A-game, dealing mostly in simple melodic lead guitar lines backed by a driving punk rock energy from the rhythm section.
“1964” follows “Evergreen”, and is more despondent than its predecessor. It evokes some of The Menzingers’ more downbeat cuts, squeezing a nice little Bruce Springsteen reference into its lyrics in the process. It’s another good track, but things get even better in the EP’s second half. Fourth track “Polola” is a definite overall highlight – a sweet little love song which sits on just the right side of cheesy. The pictures painted here are vivid but simple, telling stories of dancing around bedrooms, getting drunk, and stealing each other’s clothes. The mood changes again on the equally compelling “Stay” which follows. The love is gone this time, evidenced by Mathers’ repeated cries of (“I don’t wanna die alone”) in the song’s choruses.
As promised, Dude Trips definitely save something special for the EP’s closing track “Gentle”. It’s easily the strongest and most emotionally resonant song on the whole record, or at least it will be for anyone who has ever loved and lost a pet. It tells the devastating story of Ross saying goodbye to his beloved dog Miko, with a full-on tear-jerker of a bridge that’s worth quoting in full:
“If I had the chance when they lay me to rest/I’d put myself next to you, so you can sleep on my chest/Just like you did back when you were a pup/If I had the choice I’d do it over again/Pizza crusts and stuffed toys, then we’d make use of those legs/I would take you to the beach back where you found your feet.”
I’m not crying, you’re crying.
It’s worth acknowledging that how much you’re likely to enjoy You Are The Reason I Hate Leaving will definitely come down to how much you like this whole polished modern emo thing in general. It will probably prove too cheesy or overly emotional for some, but if you’re looking for massive, moving anthems to scratch the same itch as last year’s brilliant Brave Faces Everyone by Spanish Love Songs, you really won’t find a better shout than this.