EP Review // WHOHURTYOU ‘Stages’
On their debut EP, WhoHurtYou effectively explore the different stages people go through after a breakup, packing a punch for those going through the same.
Started as a way to deal with both their breakups, All Time Low’s Jack Barakat and popular songwriter Kevin Fisher formed a duo this year in the form of WhoHurtYou. Not expecting to ever release any music together, their writing sessions turned more and more fruitful and now, the two have released their first EP, aptly named Stages.
First track Not The One describes the famous rebound period, turning to partying and hookups for distraction but not actually facing the reality of the situation. “But when the morning comes and the thrill is gone, you’re the first and last I see.” Kevin Fisher surprised with a voice that fits the mood of the song well, taking his first step as a lead singer for a project. Starting off with a darker, electronically supported song, the EP proves right off the bat that WhoHurtYou is no All Time Low.
Track two explores the feeling of wishing you could go back and undo whatever it was that hurt you. Suitably named Wish We Never Met, this part of the EP delves into the feeling of anger and regret closely following a split. The narrator wants to delete his ex from his thoughts Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind-style, expanding on this theme in their music video as well. Lyrically the angstiest song on the EP, the backing track on Wish We Never Met has the highest danceability factor. An effective combination that makes this single one of the best on the EP.
Nobody Wins marks the halfway point for the EP, and the halfway point for relationship grief. The narrator realizes that he hurt his ex and acknowledges that he has to live with the pain he has caused, even though he would still choose to forget it if he could. A softer track, featuring a gentle beat and Fisher’s gloomy voice, is a good point of reflection. Nobody Wins is possibly the best example of how WhoHurtYou is the polar opposite of Simple Creatures, the duo formed by Jack Barakat’s All Time Low colleague Alex Gaskarth with Mark Hoppus, and very different from the cheerful image of Barakat we’ve come to love.
The third track indicates a turn on the EP that flows into Lesson In Letting Go, the incoming beat hinting that the somber vibe of Nobody Wins is being left behind. Fisher tries to look at the separation as a blessing, a lesson in letting go and moving on. The track includes some backing vocals from Barakat, for whom WhoHurtYou is his first venture into songwriting.
The EP finds its conclusion in final track Can We Still Be Friends?; a self-descriptive title. By track five, the repetitive beats on the backing track become forgettable. It feels like an area in which the duo could’ve raised the bar had they added something unexpected. The subject of Can We Still Be Friends? is a question that borders on cliché and closes the EP with an open ending. For a release that unpacks the psychology of a breakup however, it’s fitting to end without closure. It creates a successful first EP release for a duo who have both gone out of their comfort zones in more ways than one to put themselves out there and deliver.