Afters’ Happy In A Minor Key: Yearning is in, nostalgia is now

Get the latest from Beat


Afters’ Happy In A Minor Key: Yearning is in, nostalgia is now

Afters -Happy In A Minor Key
Words by Kosa Monteith

Yearning and nostalgia define Happy In A Minor Key, the debut EP from Melbourne-based outfit Afters, comprising Luke Carlino (guitar, main vocals), Jason Busutill (guitar), Charlie Wood (drums) and Mark Woodward (bass, backing vocals).

Afters evoke the past without being slavish to a specific genre, encompassing those formative sounds of the nineties and noughties, an era of disaffection and energetic depression.

Keep up with the latest music news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

Dreamy post-rock soundscapes and drifting guitar melodies meet grunge rock, a bit of Moving Mountains and The Appleseed Cast with a touch of Cali punk from the golden age of emo and first-album rawness. They sing of love, fear and frustration, Morrisey and drinking in your room, each song resonating with a particular past self so defined by intense emotions it’s as familiar as an old scar.

Start with A Drinking Establishment, an undeniably post-rock guitar open with lingering Caspian-esque tremolo. Carlino’s verse patter and echoing chorus blends with chunky guitar chords and a reverberating melody that envelopes us in a lush rock sound. Placeholders evokes iconic Cali pop-punk, its subject, the fallibility of speech in communicating feelings, familiar for any elder emo who still fights to find the right words or new slang for authentic expression. “I’ve already used all the words that exist, and the new ones I’ve created don’t make much sense.”

Stay / Explode hits us with a grunge hangover. It’s swaying, rhythmic, with a prominent baseline and rolling drum thunder. Echoey melodies and meaty chords grow with an atmospheric distortion before tension releases in a cathartic chorus. Carlino’s ponderous, at times whispery vocal layers are broken by the blasting Australian accent of Tom Lyngcoln, a pleasing anachronism illustrating how far we’ve come since Aussie emo’s cultural cringe. Woodward’s twanging sitar opening to Habits has a hint of The Smashing Pumpkins’ Today, but with a dreamier lilt.

Then fuzzy guitar, a head-nodding sway, lyrics that speak to youthful melancholy with a literal clarity (“I was tired so I quit, my euphemisms are shit”) before we’re carried away into a squealing rock solo.

The Serotonin Blues is the most evocative, a simple strummed opening, haunting echoing vocals conjuring aural nostalgia:

“If you’re not sad and you’re not blue then there must be something wrong with you. All my friends are so depressed, it makes me happy I confess, that you, you’ll be fine, cos I’ll love you until the end of time.”

Distortion crackles, breaking into an emotive swell, a drum-crash, triumphant refrain and repetitive chord progression marching over and over to the finish: the faded soundbite of the band chatting in the studio, completing that 00s punk rock recording vibe.

This track throws you back into a guilty pleasure of reminiscence. 15, lying on the carpet beside the stereo letting a song wash over on repeat, listening like it’s just for you, yearning for something or someone in the desperate ways we did, like we’re yearning now for those memories of happiness in a minor key.

Happy In A Minor Key was recorded at Ghostriter Sounds in Nyora. Engineered and produced by Tim Smyth & Stacy Gray. Mixed by Tim Smyth.

EP features guest vocals Tom Lyngcoln from Nation Blue, Harmony and Down Under (on the song Stay/Explode), and Mark Stewart from Horsell Common, Jonesez and Lowe (on the song The Serotonin Blues).

Follow Afters here.