REYKO! - Behind Tired Eyes (Review)
Updated: Nov 8, 2021
Melbourne’s REYKO! represents a powerful and intoxicating energy in this new wave of hip-hop. The young artist embodies the strength that comes from using artistic expression to come to terms with one’s inner demons. And it is this notion that is present throughout his recently released four-track EP, ‘Behind Tired Eyes’.
We originally discovered REYKO!’s discography through his contributions to the New Wave Infinity project, a collaboration between a litany of Melbourne artists and producers working together on an incredible piece of art aiming to showcase not just the talent entrenched across Melbourne, but the progression that stems from unity.
Having released his debut album ‘We Are Not The Same’ in 2019, it is clear that the year and a half journey taken to reach the unveiling of this EP has been full of learning, reassembling and building for REYKO!. 2020 in particular compounded the struggles of many individuals and communities around the world, but in Melbourne it was the devastating periods of lockdown which undoubtedly heightened the issues plaguing many people and was key in REYKO! creating this EP.
Throughout my many listens of ‘Knocked Out’ I have gained a new understanding of REYKO! each time. Every relisten of ‘Knocked Out’ has offered me fresh insight into his agony, self-awareness and his struggles with the world around him. The track evokes that often, despite one’s best efforts to topple their inner demons, anxiety is an enduring and debilitating force which manipulates every facet of your day to day. Production-wise, the use of a reminiscent guitar riff and ferociously distorted trap beats is the perfect backdrop for REYKO! to express himself on. ‘Knocked Out’ represents a duality in REYKO!’s soul through the contrasting vocal tones used throughout the track. A harsh, captivating delivery drenched in pain, loss and acceptance is juxtaposed with a melancholic sombre tone and REYKO!’s natural delivery, all of which add up to convey a soul burdened by an innate, all-consuming desolation.
‘Feel the Same’
‘Feel the Same’ etches itself on to your subconscious because of the immense balance it exhibits sonically. The track is raw and unflinching, presenting relatable lyrics that call on listeners to reach out and be present with one another in order to help mend each other’s pain. Featured alongside REYKO!’s regretful vocals are some haunting ephemeral synths and an optimistic riff which points to the hope he has for the future. The metaphor found in the line; “this feeling wrapped around my head like tourniquets”, is as pertinent an illustration of anxiety as I’ve ever heard.
‘I Lose It’
Often in music it is pivotal to learn and grow from one’s experiences, and there can be no doubting that REYKO! has experienced personal growth in a truly grounding way through the making of this EP. ‘I Lose It’ is a testament to the feelings one undergoes prior to embracing self-love and self-acceptance. The overriding effect of one’s insecurities and anxieties often leave them dependent on vices that debilitate the body and soul in an effort to numb the pain. REYKO! is transparent in his lyrics throughout the project, but it is on ‘I Lose It’ where he reflects this dependency so well, revealing the way his personal demons would dictate his everyday in such a profound and prevailing way.
Found across this EP is a hopefulness within the longing and internal conflict, and it is on ‘Healer Complex’ where I feel this is most present. However, to achieve such optimism for the future REYKO! first acknowledges the challenge of overcoming his own personal healer complex. Whilst REYKO! is bound by a lasting love to a significant other, the complexity of his own agenda in the relationship is palpable through his lyrics. Ultimately, REYKO! realises that his idea of a prophetic, long-lasting relationship means healing someone else when he has not yet completely come to terms with himself. A magnificent conclusion to this unique EP.
What stands out so significantly on ‘Behind Tired Eyes’ is the multitude of perspectives REYKO! exemplifies to the listener. The dislocated and uncertain nature of REYKO!’s thoughts during the period of his life explored in the EP is reflective of a human being who has contended with a search for clarity in an effort to prevent alienating others with his own misgivings. The way he longs for someone to help him overcome his pain on ‘Feel the Same’ contrasts with his realisation that healing comes from within on ‘Healer Complex’. And it is this dichotomy that makes the EP so special.
The aesthetic and style of ‘Behind Tired Eyes’ is not necessarily unfamiliar to REYKO!, rather the Melbourne artist pushes past the boundaries of trap and emo-rap to a greater echelon. The guitar riffs throughout the EP transcend the emotion of each and every track, pointing to REYKO!’s natural talent for evoking emotion in a multi-faceted manner, which is something I greatly admire in any artist.
‘Behind Tired Eyes’ is an astounding listen. Not just because of the authenticity and the vulnerability on show, but in how powerful every song on the four-track EP conveys emotion sonically. The purpose of the EP is not just to allow REYKO! a chance to take us through the whirlwind of internal chaotic energy he’s undergone, but to inspire empathy in the world around us.
Published March 25th, 2021.