Bright Lights, Red Eyes - EP
Ruel’s the kind of teen heartthrob who’ll find easy success well into his twenties and beyond. He released his first track when he was just 14, and here, three years and three EPs later, his knack for growing and maturing with, and for, his audience is proven once again. The London-born, Sydney-raised singer wrote this intimate EP—which mostly focuses on the period before and right after a relationship’s end—in a stream of consciousness, a way to document that one particular time in his life. And though it was written in 2019, pre-pandemic, it’s precisely what his fans will be craving at the tail end of 2020. The title is taken from the chorus of the bouncy opening track “as long as you care”: “Running off instead of facing you, but if I do, you won’t be home … as long as you care, you have no idea, it’s all bright lights and red eyes/I’m never there, but as long as you’re here, I’m all bright lights and red eyes.” Tender ballad “distance” captures the painful moments immediately after the breakup: “I talked about it last night, thought I was fine/Helped you pack your things, put your bags in the hallway,” he sings over a soft, simple guitar. Retrospect and sad resolve settle in on “courage,” with Ruel admitting to himself, “If I tried again, I know I’d run/Dropping the words through the back of my tongue … I’d try again, but I don’t have the courage,” while backing vocals and a smooth, comforting rhythm add warmth. Released at a time when he’s still too young to drink or vote, it’s nevertheless clear that Ruel’s already experienced a whole lotta life.