Album Review: Bailen – Tired Hearts

On their sophomore album, Tired Hearts, sibling trio Bailen expand and experiment with their sound, venturing into moodier soundscapes and vocal explorations that help them break into new emotional territories and textures.

Almost acting as a mission statement, the album opens with the title track, which begins as a moody, folk-drenched hymn but continues to add new elements as it progresses, with syncopated percussion, vocal layering and touches of orchestration building it into an art-rock stomper. And while artistic, the group never lets their eclectic interests make their songs inaccessible. “Nothing Left to Give” has the same mix of pop harmonies and 70’s classic rock instrumentation that runs in the blood of acts from Fleetwood Mac to Haim. It’s upbeat alt pop, with lyrics like “I’ve got nothing left to give, but that’s okay. It’s just a little less to lose” destined to be written as inspirational reminders to teens going through difficult times.

The breathy vocals on “These Bones” will be compared to Phoebe Bridgers, with the harmonies pushing it into boygenius territory, but the moseying, campfire guitar picking, the track finds its own natural aura. The biting lyrics of “Leave Me Wanting More” may also bring Bridgers to mind, as the bitter kiss-off track drops lines like “I’m not afraid to fight in public, standing out here on some random doorstep”, with a rallying synth line expanding it into an amphitheater anthem.

The group also shows a willingness to turn-up the rock energy, with “Here We Are Again” rolling and rollicking with cathartic energy and wry humor, and “Call it Like It Is” utilizing an R&B bass line to find a funky, sultry and soulful vibe. Bailen also show a knack for evoking vulnerability while also keeping their songs empowering. When they drop lines like “I’ll be just another relic of your past” on the heartbreaking “Relic” or “wish you wouldn’t take the blame for every cell of DNA” on “BRCA (nothing Takes Me Down)”, they easily hit emotional marks, yet still find some sun behind the clouds and coast past the pain (“it’s all just an uphill battle. You shoulder the brunt”).

There’s a lot to love on this Bailen album, both lyrically and melodically. While there is a moment or two of corniness (“Shadow” treads a bit into schmaltz), Tired Hearts is mostly a sumptuous blend of adventurous songwriting, wistful melodies and youthful spirit. Listen to it in full on May 5th (we’ll have it in our New Music Friday Playlist for ya), and listen to the pre-released tracks here.


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