Tired Lion – Breakfast for Pathetics
Released: 20 November, 2020
It’s finally here, three odd years since Dumb Days. Personally, Breakfast for Pathetics has been a highly-anticipated album for me; I have been wondering which direction Tired Lion would go, post-creation of their wailing track ‘Cilantro’ (which wasn’t released as a single, I just think it’s indicative of Sophie Hopes aptitude and diversity as a vocalist). Breakfast for Pathetics is a showcase of this, but also acts as a product of what I understand to be a tremendous amount of exploration in terms of production: a more intricate and refined drum sound, samples and off-the-cuff vocal snippets, but of course the same Tired Lion guitar tones we know and love. Sophie’s knack for writing catchy melodies is really on display here, with 10 tracks that hold their own not only as individuals, but make for an exceptional second album for the band. Trust me—vocally and instrumentally, it’s a collection of more hooks than the old man’s bloody tackle box (I know, if its Breakfast for Pathetics, seat me at the table).
Breakfast kicks off with ‘Diet Sick’. It sucks if you have the words ‘breakfast’ and ‘diet’ in the same sentence, because it usually means you’re not having the pancakes. Not the case here, it doesn’t suck at all. Even ‘Suck’ didn’t suck, from their first EP Figurine. No, ‘Diet Sick’ certainly sets a high standard for the rest of album, stirring up a hankering appetite for more. ‘Waterbed’ was the first song released since Dumb Days, and made for a good indication of what to expect for future releases: punchy, a little bit angry, and sincere. The track was released with a video in which Sophie dressed up as a nun smoking a dart. Nuns are scary as shit, but I have never seen something as sinister as a nun dragging a fender jaguar across the concrete. It was shocking, repulsive and even heartbreaking. But heartbreak is what this track is all about, or maybe it’s simply just a failed relationship. Besides, all the best guitars have scars, right?
‘Lie to me / tell me I’m pretty / tell me I’m skinny / tell me I’m winning / fuck, lie to me / tell me I’m something / tell me I’m nothing / tell me I’m anything’ ‘Lie to Me’ comes off as a bit of a fuck you to the pressures of the other. Having someone make you feel like you’re inferior. They aren’t always successful, it’s just not fair that these people think they have the right to try. Fuck you to those people. Seeking approval is so rife in today’s climate so ‘Lie to Me’ could never ring more true. I felt like ‘~Cya Later~’ had some Silversun Pickups vibes about it, very ‘Lazy Eye’. Maybe Luke Boerdam (who recorded Breakfast for Pathetics) vouched for that clean, downstrokey goodness you hear on the rhythm guitar. Or maybe he had nothing to do with it, I don’t know. It’s important to hear influences though, and it’s refreshing to know that they are still getting found in the right places. A slow-burning, head-nodder that will definitely have you singing: ‘or something like thaaaaat’. Something like that anyway.
‘Don’t Take Me Back’ keeps us at that down-tempo level, but with a tasty little breakdown (best breakfast ever) to remind us that we are not in any sort of a lull, by any means. Then we’re on the up again for the title track ‘Breakfast for Pathetics’. And we be slappin’ the tubs hard again. I was intrigued by the album’s title when I first heard it, and I was surprised to discover that it may be about Sophie’s move from Perth to Brisbane. ‘Perth I could have loved you’—at least that’s what I think she’s saying. A song about moving on and doing what you’ve got to do. If the move was the catalyst for this great 2nd album, then so be it, but know that Perth misses you! And I hope that EP I gave you when you were hosting that open mic night all those years ago hasn’t found a rubbish bin yet.
‘Drama Club’ could be a critique on the roles we play as partners. Which could be the role of halfwit, or it could be the role of hero (these are the two roles I am granted, at least in my experience); I like to think it’s the latter for the majority of the time… Hehe. I hear this in: ‘ya wanna bury me / ya wanna marry me’. The quality drum sound (provided by Violent Soho‘s Michael Richards) that was captured in this album is definitely showcased in this track. I do love to hear some toms sing.
If ‘Drama Club’ showcases drums, ‘Wooky Hole’ highlights Sophie’s vocals. A track that doesn’t let up from start to finish, with an interlude that includes Sophie howling “fuck you“. At least I hope she says that. Sometimes I’m that kid who’s a sucker for cursing in songs. Why? I don’t know, fuck you! I haven’t really analyzed the lyrics in this one, but I’m pretty sure they have nothing to do with Chewbacca’s anatomy. ‘Actuality’ is my favourite track on this album. That could be because of the warm three chords that round out each progression, akin to Violent Soho’s ‘How to Taste’; or it could be just the catchy vocal hook. Yes, it can be as simple as that. It’s a bit heavier too, so let’s call it a combination of all those things.
Breakfast is rounded out with ‘Screw You, Man’, a song that I hope gets a run in their live set. It is far slower than the rest of the album, but maintains that same pissed-off vibe. It is aptly placed at the end of the album too: you’re sitting there all bloated and don’t really feel like moving much, but you have no regrets, because you have had your fill of sweet goodness. You did it, you ordered the pancakes.
Tired Lion – Breakfast for Pathetics tracklisting:
- Diet Sick
- Lie to Me
- ~Cya Later~
- Don’t Take Me Back
- Breakfast for Pathetics
- Drama Club
- Wooky Hole
- Screw You, Man