Artist: Horrible Things
Album: Everybody Else
Release: Spring 2015 (Secret Pennies)
Our Take: “Buy it”
Tucked away in a corner of the Champaign-Urbana music scene, Tim Reynolds has spent the last two years quietly working on Horrible Things’ sophomore album Everybody Else. It’s been nearly three years to the date since the Champaign punk band released its debut Dumb Days, a nine-track album that goes by as fast as the broken relationship it documents slip away.
The Champaign singer-songwriter had a lot to live up to with his project’s second release. Dumb Days was heralded as one of the scene’s best albums in 2012, landing on end of the year lists throughout local media – even being named one of the best records from 2010-14 by CU blog SmilePolitely. And while Everybody Else doesn’t raise the bar its predecessor lifted, the follow-up carries it on in its own right. Three years removed, Reynolds delivers another deeply personal record masked in a pop-punk energy that counter argues the resolution message underneath the feel-good tempo.
Reynolds picks up where his first record left off in conceptual theme, this time focusing the lyrics on his distancing himself from friends and family. The floating island on the album’s cover immediately comes to mind as the album bursts into “A Million Times” – the first track and single off the record.
In small sprints, Reynolds seems to cross over into the world of Dumb Days while keeping a foot in the present – both looking to step out from the loneliness their themes are rooted in. In “Those Eyes,” the frontman desperately clamors for attention from the opening line (“What I’d give to have your eyes stare back at me”), racing to call for romance or simply another friendship the album longs for as a whole.
While Reynolds’ confidence lacks through his lyricism, the songs on Everybody Else have a traceable spine. The 24 year old maturely holds on to what worked in the past, popping out tracks like “I Picked a Side” and “12 Screens” that sound like they could land on Dumb Days. But Horrible Things stretches into the unknown, utilizing more backing vocals throughout and discovering a slow pace in the album’s closer, “One of Them.”
There’s no doubt Everybody Else will be archived as one of CU’s best records by the end of 2015, but whether Horrible Things can remain active in the period between this and their next release will determine if the band stays relevant and progressive by the time that comes.