Bright and energetic music to escape for a while
It is by no exaggeration that the past year in music has brought people many somber albums, trying to capture the sound of the times with sonic dissonance and lyrical pain. When the album comes around that aims to be upbeat, there is a certain beauty to its desire to push against the current era. TUNS’s Duly Noted does just that. It’s a refreshing break within the rock genre—its rock elements are used just for enjoyment. The Canadian indie rock supergroup comprises Mike O’Neill from The Inbreds, Chris Murphy from Sloan and Matt Murphy of The Super Friendz. The sheer chemistry of TUNS is infectious, making the album a clear forerunner in bringing an optimism many rock bands are aiming to reject.
The versatility of the album comes from the opening track “In the Middle of the Way Home.” A bit ’80s inspired, the song is reminiscent of the cross-genre influence of pop and rock music. Its guitar riff is undeniably catchy, as the drums and vocals perfectly encapsulate a more powerful optimism. While the lyrics may not be entirely happy at all times throughout the album, the song has a powerful sense of hope. Its bridge acts in a pure rock ballad way. The deceptively simple song reminds one of the past, automatically connecting the listeners from the start. When this sense of nostalgia is dually present with optimism, it truly allows for a more engaging listening experience.
“My Memories” has some of the most interesting vocal performances on the album. Both the lead and backup vocals reiterate contradiction—the desire to not look back and the continual pull of memory. The underlying echo of the lyrics is reminiscent of the Beach Boys, connecting one to the sense of the past sonically. Immediately following this chorus is an explosive guitar break, which immerses one immediately into the song. The sort of groove that these elements have combined shows the pure energy of the album. Even the laugh at the end of the album shows more of a connection to the artist themselves.
Even when the album deals with the more traditionally serious subject matter with its love ballad “I’ll Only Love You More,” it rejects the idea of stalling the breaks. The bassline begins slightly slower in this song to match the more complicated drum work in place. The instrumental breakdown during its bridge rejects the slower tempo, and the background vocals seamlessly intertwine with the drums and heavier riffs, making it immediately more complex.
“Words and Music” shows a candid portrait of sentimentality to songwriting. Describing that he wishes the song “was an instrumental,” the vocalist expresses how much harder it is to create. The lyricality of the song makes it stand out specifically, as it complements perfectly with its instrumentals. It has a definite poetic rhyme with its fun bassline. Instead of collapsing in frustration, the band does not take itself too seriously, which makes it all the more relatable to listen to. It represents a sort of connection that perhaps more music should deal with regarding accepting the past, even if in this song it’s in a tongue-in-cheek manner.
“Keeping Options Open” is a similar sort of sarcasm. Never delving into biting, the song has a sort of playfulness to it. Its simple chord progressions in the verses bring it to a sort of grounding compared to its loud drum work. Characteristic of the album, instrumental breaks are present to have a genuine type of “garage band” feel. TUNS clearly knows their strengths, which they often play with in exciting ways. The build-up throughout the entire song cuts off abruptly, leading people to want to listen again before leading to the last song.
The closing track, “We’re Living in it Now,” has a stripped-down vocal performance in its first verse. It has a more realistic portrayal of love than the rest of the album. It’s quite beautiful in its simple lyrics, describing how he wants to take her “higher than higher” in their relationship. The resigning of wanting to take a chance on a love that might not work out has a powerful statement. While it may be a time-old tale, it is a wonderful closing track for Duly Noted, dripping with hope and desire. The promise of a relationship does not matter as its present beauty. To relish in the joys of life is something often forgotten, but by placing it at the tail end, it leaves one with the lingering thoughts of taking a chance to allow happiness in one’s life.