What do you do when college isn’t everything you thought it would be? For four friends, the answer was to put the band back together. Gary Sheedy, Steven Browne, Charles Campanella, and John Perdue had been playing together since middle school, but called it quits when they accepted offers to different universities. A couple years later, they were back at it, writing songs long-distance by phone and internet throughout the 2016-17 school year, this time under the name Previous Love.
Produced by Jay Zubricky (Every Time I Die, Cute Is What We Aim For) at GCR Studios in their hometown of Buffalo, the self-titled EP Previous Love captures coming-of-age disillusionment by combining lyrics reflecting internal monologue, swimmy shoegaze contemplativeness, and crashing rock. The sonic effect brings listeners along for a ride through the emotional roller coaster of growing up: the heartbreaks, the feeling of being adrift, and the yearning for purpose and meaning.
The opening track “Dead Ends” is particularly heavy-hearted. Gossamer reverb-laden guitar strumming creates an ambient background as vocalist Sheedy questions his faith in religion, mankind, and himself. “The older I get, the more I know that I don’t know anything at all. It’s all dead ends,” he laments. The tension builds, climaxing in an angst-ridden frenzy.
This emotionally-charged first track then gives way to some lighter melodies. While “Pinwheel” is about the frustration of feeling stuck in place, the tune is a bop. The contrast between the instrumentation and the lyrics creates balance, while the driving drum beat gives the sense of moving forward and pushing through the hard times. “Caffeine” is another notable track. With a strong hook and a jangly sound, the song is the musical equivalent of a shot of espresso.
Listeners will find it easy to pick out old-school new wave and grunge influences, the dreamy sounds of The Cure and The Jesus and Mary Chain and the raw, raucous energy of Nirvana. Compared to Buffalo-area contemporaries, Previous Love lies on the spectrum between ambient pop artists Humble Braggers and alt rockers Head North.
While the collection of songs on Previous Love are a reflection on growing pains, there’s also a vein of hopefulness, and an anticipation that great things lie ahead.
Key Tracks: Dead Ends, Pinwheel, Caffeine