WORDS BY ISABELLA ROSS
A couple of months ago I was lucky enough to sit down and chat with the boys from OK Hotel, before this EP was released; their love for music and each other makes Stay Bright something special. To new fans this may look like a first-time debut, however this is not their first shot at launching OK Hotel as a band. With a few years of experience under their belt they decided to relaunch with their ironically named EP Stay Bright. Although it describes the general energy of the EP, the tracks delve a little deeper to explore themes beyond a bright surface. Stay Bright also brings the addition of guitarist Lucy Rorris to OK Hotel.
Opening with the track their track Life is Crazy (Like That), OK Hotel set the tone for this EP with a classic Aussie pub rock sound. Life is Crazy is the brightest track from the list, used by Dave Ruby Howe to soundtrack moments in life that no words can truly describe. “Don’t fuck with my mood” is the perfect lyric for this upbeat intro reminding us to set boundaries and enjoy all the unexpected twists and turns this summer may hold.
The first release from OK Hotel this year has racked up just under 30k streams on Spotify, featuring second on the track list. Swim plays with a contrast between quiet verse and a loud chorus. Contrast is a signature element of the OK Hotel sound; I recommend keeping an ear out to see how they play with this throughout the EP drawing inspiration from bands like Violent Soho and Blink-182.
Stars on the Ceiling has a slightly heavier rock sound with angsty lyrics. Josh’s vocals are more melodic than in the earlier tracks. I am a fan of the tiny twinkly guitar riff that brings a lightness to Stars on the Ceiling. As someone that has stars on my own ceiling this track caught my attention with its lyrics. I think all of us have felt stuck trying to get someone’s attention, this track captures that feeling so well. Better Friends has a slightly cleaner sound whilst still matching the energy of Stars on the Ceiling. This track reflects on a friendship that never seems to find a happy medium. Better Friends ends abruptly after a chaotic cacophony, just as some friendships seem to fall apart in an instant.
What a Lie wraps the EP up in a warm embrace. Whilst sonically this one seems calmer; the emotions are still running high. Look out if you are feeling fragile, “I can’t feel complete because we never were just a memory” will knock you to your feet. The guitars in What a Lie remind me of my childhood in the mid 2000’s. After a punchy few tracks this one closes out Stay Bright on a final sweet note that leaves me excited for what is next to come from OK Hotel.
This wouldn’t be a complete review without a special mention of the groovy album art. Caitlin Ellis & Ben’s simple illustration of a cliff top view looks like it was picked up in the 60’s and saved for this very moment. After such a crazy year Stay Bright is the perfect mix of classic lighthearted surf cost pub rock, and reflection on the crazy year 2020 has been. OK Hotel have nailed this one with five angsty choruses ready for Aussie audiences to sing back around the country.