If your first impression of Hungover was of an arena-dwelling band bathed in lights, their resounding choruses bouncing between rafters and the earth-shaken audience members beneath, you’d be easily forgiven. The Orlando, FL quintet practically oozes confidence – and the gigantic hooks to match – in their debut EP. WILT calls to mind Under the Cork Tree era Fall Out Boy and mid-aughts Motion City Soundtrack imbued with an energy and intelligence the size of both bands’ catalogues.
Hungover is the product of the ashes of other bands and the years its members – Marc Cortes, Evan Colson, Sean Connors, Austin Barney, and Gabe Santiago – spent together in the Orlando music scene. It’s there that Hungover cut their teeth in small, packed clubs and bars, carefully honing their penchant for energetic, impactful, and wildly pop-sensible guitar rock. The band’s lyricist and principal songwriter Marc Cortes recalls this fondly, “after [WILT’s] songs were written, we played them in a live environment to see how they would translate and continued to adapt them from there. Crowd reaction was immediate and the songs really connected with people. Seeing a crowd move around and dance to music they’ve never heard before is truly validating.”
However, the spry sound that characterizes Hungover shows is juxtaposed by its poignant subject matter. WILT – an acronym for “When I Lose Touch” – recalls key experiences in Cortes’ life like addiction, loss, absent family members, toxic relationships, and somehow continuing to learn and grow through it all. Take for example the opening lines of Irish Goodbye. Cortes croons “Are you still my father? Am I still your son? Ran like a bat out of Hell and said that you were done.” It’s this biting lyricism that permeates the entire EP, handsomely helped along by Cortes’ dynamic range. Cutting lines are delivered in both low, lusty bellows and soaring vocalizations that would make even Patrick Stump blush.
In the studio, Hungover learned to push the envelope and sharpen WILT’s five songs with the help of producer and engineer Alan Reitman. The band ruthlessly molded and rearranged entire songs in order to achieve their best possible iterations. After self-releasing WILT to underground acclaim, Hungover chose to team up with Smartpunk Records to release the EP on vinyl with three brand new, unreleased songs mastered by Alan Douches (Real Friends, Fall Out Boy, Every Time I Die). Three’s Company, Exit: Stage Left, and Sleep Alone all effortlessly exhibit the same vigor, cleverness, and raw emotion of the five songs that preceded them, but capture the experience and know-how of a band at their peak.
Hungover as a whole is a helium, their dynamic sound inflating any room they inhabit. A bar becomes a hall, a club becomes a theatre, and so on; and it’s no accident either. By allowing themselves to be molded by the rooms they’ve played, Hungover is in turn able to mold those rooms themselves. It’s this awareness that instills WILT with the exact same sensation; that urgent push from the inside of the chest and the awareness that the moment is somehow bigger than the seconds it exists in. That indefinable something.