Today, Brisbane icon Jeremy Neale released his long-awaited sophomore LP, We Were Trying To Make It Out. To say expectations were high is an understatement, as this is the local legend’s first release since spending time in New York following his prestigious Grant McLennan Fellowship win. On We Were Trying To Make It Out, Neale channels everything he learned during his trip and a decade of experience at the forefront of the ever-growing Brisbane music scene, into a remarkable release. One of the many great achievements of the record is Neale’s ability to share valuable life lessons in a succinct and uplifting manner, which makes for an easily digestible and wholly rewarding listening experience.

We Were Trying To Make It Out opens energetically with the stadium pop-rock banger Everything I Do Is Replaced By Two, a track that introduces audiences to the memorable and ingenious musicality on display throughout. The tempo is kept high in the first half of the record with the beachy, infectious guitars in Tried and True (Raise The Roof), then promises are honoured on The Strength To Carry by the implementation of brass performed by Seamus Albion, which is an effortlessly complimentary addition to the guitars. The first half of We Were Trying To Make It Out feels like Neale perfecting his recipe of retro-revivalist pop-rock with a soulful swagger and a whole lot of charisma, which is wonderfully displayed in the infectious Hold Me Up.

Although the record begins strongly and energetically, the closing four tracks lift it into ‘local classic’ territory. The high pace is slowed down to allow Neale’s lyricism, vocal performances and instrumentation (performed by him and a wealth of talented friends), to properly shine. Our Days Are Numbered and Still Want You Around Me bring a slow and smooth soul influence to the record, adding a different but welcome flavour to Neale’s repertoire. The title track We Were Trying To Make It Out is a contemplative slow-burner with jazz-inspired instrumental breaks throughout, and gorgeous vocals performed by Pool Shop’s Jaimee Fryer. The album’s closer, Time, is the cherry on top of an already superb cake, melding influences from The Cure and REM with an abundance of charm and sweetness.

Arguably Neale’s best work to date, We Were Trying To Make It Out encapsulates the best aspects of his music: infectious hooks, charismatic vocals, and lines that well and truly stick. Throughout the 30 minute runtime, there is an abundance of smart lyricism and instrumentation that rewards revisits. On his sophomore LP, Neale wholeheartedly succeeds in releasing a varied, intelligent pop-rock album that feels like a personal, heart-warming letter from a great friend with a hug attached.

Jeremy Neale’s sophomore LP We Were Trying To Make It Out, is out now.


Feature image: Jeremy Neale by Jeff Andersen Jnr

This review is courtesy of Phoenix Radio’s Emerge program, hosted by Calen Le Couteur and Russell Thompson. Follow Emerge and tune in on Monday nights 7-9PM HERE.