It’s not uncommon for artists to try re-invent themselves. Whether it’s as solo artists or within the band they’re in, quite often it’s done to try and break the mould that they’ve become to be known for. Some do it well; others not so much. As for Hayley Mary, her debut EP is distinct and memorable, in that you’ll recognise her distinct vocals from the first notes, remember them for a while yet.
Known as the vocalist and songwriter for Sydney’s The Jezabels, Hayley Mary consistently wrote some of the most brooding and emo music of the past decade or so. And while there is definitely still some of that broodiness here on The Piss, The Perfume, there is a noticeable pop and Americana trend as her vocals once more shine through.
The opening, titular track and lead single “The Piss, The Perfume” stars as an ode to Sydney. Written from a perspective of what Sydney was and now is (I have no way of proving this, but I feel the Lockout Laws may have had something to do with these perspectives), it’s an understandable choice for why it was the lead single. “The Piss, The Perfume” has the grit you expect from an artist hoping to make a distinct but subtle move away from their roots.
Disguised with the undertones of a love song, “Like a Woman Should” talks about toxic people (specifically men) and how they can come in all shapes and forms. Notable in pointing out the conflict people may feel about being in a toxic relationship, “Like a Woman Should” is special from beginning to end.
Turning it down a little to the near sombre “Ordinary Me”, Hayley takes us to a sound you’d almost expect from The Cranberries. It’s melodic, sweet and honestly pretty bloody good.
Written in Scotland on a sabbatical from Australian life, much of the EP was written as Hayley and her partner ventured across the country seeking a simpler life. Having initially not wanted to ever write again, it appears as though the fresher air and slower times in Edinburgh has worked a treat for an artist that we very well may have never heard from again.
A personal favourite for Hayley, “Holly” is a reason this EP came as far it has. Written hoping to make her feel the way about music when she first fell in love with, “Holly” canters along in a traditional sense, as you can almost see the love and heartbreak the song will bestow upon Hayley’s face when she plays it live.
Rounding things out with the punk induced “Brat”, the fifth track has a real Alex Lahey and Ali Barter vibe to it. Once more, the vocals soar in the pre-chorus, before the punchiness of the chorus really takes the track and EP to another level. It’s a great closer and will definitely be a live set highlight.
A distinct departure from the music you’ve come to expect from Hayley Mary, The Piss, The Perfume, with its wailing guitars, crunching drums, excellent vocals and effulgent all round performance is something I can get around. Here’s hoping this distinct departure brings Hayley Mary as much success and memorable moments as we’ve grown used to her having.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
The Piss, The Perfume is out today – Friday 17 January 2020.