Who doesn’t love a good demo? There’s something so exciting about your favorite artists releasing the early versions of their best songs. It gives us all the chance to dissect their songwriting process, muse over how differently their songs could have sounded, or sometimes, even just jam out.
The Boston-based emo band, mapleway, just released a set of five demos that represent years of hard work and determination. “While these songs are of course released as demos, I reflect on them as complete works,” bassist and lead vocalist Elliot Currier writes in the notes. “Five tracks that I think we really put our damnedest effort into.”
“Hey Coffee Eyes!! (I Think You’re the One!!)” is the fourth demo on the split, a high-spirited and anthemic display of lo-fi Midwest emo. From the get-go, this track lays the narrator out bare with honest, piercing lyrics. “Sleeping all my Saturdays / REM but wide awake / Puppy love but still afraid / When will we let me down?” Currier sings with confessional sincerity, with guitarist Sam Simpson offering backup vocals in a question-answer style: “Sundays waking up afraid / Spiders lining up in circles / Working out the years in my head.” At times, Simpson’s voice threatens to break. When he wonders, “Am I too young to feel like this?” his voice is filled with impassioned angst that explodes by the end of the line.
By the song’s end, Currier reveals the extent of his emotional vulnerability and unleashes a raw, bellowing roar: “I am not a puppy anymore / I am not seeing stars.” In the beginning of the song, Currier described his relationship as puppy love, but now, he derides the title. After the crash, when the dust has settled and the stars in his eyes have cleared out, Currier finally begins to understand his own identity and relationship: “I feel each atom turn inside itself / I feel my chemistry turn to yours.” As the drums slow the pace of the song to a standstill and the guitars, which once sounded hopeful but now reveal heart-wrenching pain, fade away, you’re left standing alone in the aftermath of the crash.
“Hey Coffee Eyes!!” is a startling emo performance by mapleway. These are the kinds of lyrics and vocal delivery that feel intensely, deeply personal and are undeniably moving. For their first full release, this track is a triumphant debut that tries to put a modern twist on more old school emo. They don’t try to reinvent emo as an entire genre, but rather spin it for newer ears. This track might just be a demo, but the heart and emotional core is indisputably present here. This just makes me excited for what comes next for mapleway.