Album Review: Nighteyes – The Way Back Down

“The Way Back Down,” the debut album by Nighteyes, marks a profound entry into the musical landscape by New Zealand-born and Melbourne-based multi-instrumentalist Rachel Trainor. It’s an album that encapsulates a journey, both literal and metaphysical, from darkness into light. Over the course of its eight tracks, spanning 40 minutes, Nighteyes guides us through an evocative landscape filled with tales of trauma, love, sorrow, and transformation, underpinned by a rich tapestry of dark rock, folk, and electronica.

The album opens with “Down By The Sea,” a slow-rock number that sets the tone for the album’s overarching theme of navigating through emotional tumult. The track’s evolving nature, coupled with its narrative of a love faded but still clung to, establishes the deeply personal yet universally relatable storytelling that Trainor has mastered. It’s an immersion into a world where the personal and the mythic intertwine, each track a chapter in a larger tale of human experience.

“Lowlight” and “Hollow Tree” continue this narrative journey. The former, an eerie doom-electronic number, masterfully weaves walls of fuzz-driven guitars with glitchy electronic percussion, evoking the haunting isolation of a moonlit, deserted beach. “Hollow Tree,” in contrast, presents a dreamy yet darkened love song. It is in these tracks that Trainor’s talent for blurring musical boundaries shines brightest, blending genres to create a sound that is both familiar and refreshingly unique.

“My Only One” delves into the realms of mental health, with Trainor providing a gripping, autobiographical account of struggling with anxiety. The song’s ominous finger-picked guitar riffs and echoing percussion lead to a cathartic release of head-spinning rock, capturing the tumultuous inner battles of the mind. “In The Wake” is a stark reminder of our helplessness in the face of environmental catastrophes. Its full-bodied acoustic guitar and distant cries stir a haunting atmosphere, painting a vivid picture of a burning shore and a land mourned.

The lead single “Plenty” serves as a poignant commentary on human-driven climate change and societal progress. Trainor’s graceful vocals, building momentum to a crescendo of distorted electric guitars and resounding drums, convey a sense of urgency and a call to action. This track epitomizes the album’s ability to balance beauty with a sense of impending doom.

The album closes with “Third Eye” and “Spiral,” two tracks that encapsulate the thematic heart of the album. “Third Eye” is a celestial journey through family dynamics and generational echoes, while “Spiral” provides a reflective look at the cyclical nature of thought loops, particularly poignant in its depiction of the 2020 lockdown in Melbourne. These final tracks complete the album’s narrative arc, transforming darkness into hope through uplifting harmonies and an evocative synth section.

“The Way Back Down” by Nighteyes is a debut that feels like a culmination – of experiences, of emotions, of musical exploration. Rachel Trainor has crafted a deeply personal yet universally accessible album that resonates on multiple levels. It is a journey that invites introspection and offers hope, with a soundscape that is as diverse as it is cohesive. This album is not just a collection of songs; it’s a transformative experience, marking Trainor as a formidable talent in the contemporary music scene.

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