Tough Lovers
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Tough Lovers

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | SELF

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | SELF
Band Rock Pop




"Tough Lovers exercise guitar-propelled alt-pop on Good Morning"

The world is by and large a miserable and shitty place, and sometimes the last thing you need is a band of nihilistic misanthropes reminding you of that. That’s where the likes of Weezer and Nada Surf come in handy. Or, closer to home, Tough Lovers.

The five-song Good Morning EP is a professional-sounding exercise in classic guitar-propelled alt-pop. The emphasis there is on “professional”: singer Jamie Smail, guitarist Graham Madden, bassist Dane Stevens, and drummer Ryan Stephenson have mastered their craft to the point where, if this were 1994 instead of 2012, they’d have their pick of major-label contracts to choose from.

An iron-clad grasp of the importance of harmonies and hooks aside, it’s the little things that stand out here. Like the way that the bright, bouncy, and charmingly winsome “Started With a Spark” is interrupted mid-song by a feedback-laden, distortion-soaked solo. Or how the cascading “Inside My Head” gets doused in a mix of country-noir guitar and desert-mirage organ. Hell, Tough Lovers even manage to make a track with the title “Graveyards” sound more or less upbeat. As opposed to, you know, a headache-inducing blast of sonic wretchedness by some band with a moniker like Doomed and Disgusting.
- The Georgia Straight

"Tough Lovers - Good Morning"

In an effort to distinguish themselves from the overcrowded marketplace of west coast rock’n'roll, the second release from Vancouver’s Tough Lovers is a rustic blend of ethereal harmonies and powerful solos. Though Good Morning was independently produced, you’d never guess it by the youthful energy replicated in the five new songs from these Vancouverites that both celebrate and deprecate.

Through the confusion of heartache and frustration, Tough Lovers has evolved beyond their earlier self to produce a succinct EP whose forlorn verses seamlessly transform into dignified proclamations of empowerment. Juxtaposing these common themes, Jamie Smail leads the energetic quartet through another concise collection of captivating choruses and rhythm sections that should make any young upstarts envious.

For having five songs that run just under twenty minutes, Good Morning draws from a remarkable number of influences. The disco beat of “Surrounded” elaborates on the catchier, synth-driven “Jennifer” from 2011’s Exits, while the harmless daydreaming of “Before the Sun Sets” catches the band in their most straightforward pop moment, proving that Tough Lovers find inspiration in a variety of genres and should be treated as more than just a simple rock’n'roll outfit.

Surprisingly, Smail also brandishes his darker side on the ominous lyrics of “Inside My Head,” singing: “The reaper knows your name / And he knows your situation / Don’t you cry / He knows just where you’re living / And what cigarettes you’re smoking,” before closing with “Graveyards,” which shows that this band can turn up the volume (and fuzz) when they want.

While the distinctions are nuanced, Good Morning manages to adapt a variety of genres to that of their traditional rock origins to form an endearing album that will leave you surprisingly satisfied in the time it takes you to enjoy your morning coffee. - Discorder


"Good Morning" EP - March 31, 2012
"Exits" EP - February 4, 2011



Through the rickety door of a faded old barn the swelling bass and thundering drums of an aspiring indie rock band regularly disturb the silence of the night. Within this rustic rehearsal space, Tough Lovers, a Vancouver based quartet, continually fine-tune their unique sound. Surrounded by discarded hay bales deemed inedible even by livestock standards and competing with the screeches of circling barn owls, the vulnerable harmonies of lead vocalist Jamie Smail are oddly in tune with the desolate surroundings.

Formed in 2010 by Smail, Dane Stevens (Bass) and Graham Madden (Lead Guitar), the band rounded out its lineup when a night of boxed wine, ‘Project Runway’ and general loneliness led, as it often does, to the Craigslist personals. Ultimately realizing they needed a drummer more than an STD, the band scribbled down a phone number and when their debut EP ‘Exits’ was released in February of 2011, Ryan Stephenson was firmly entrenched as the fourth ‘Lover.’

Invoking a sound that will leave you hopelessly liberated, as if soaring above civilization on the wings of an albatross, or happily confined, as if stuck in an elevator with a bottle of tequila, a Marvin Gaye record and a Kardashian sister not named Khloe, Tough Lovers will guide you on a lyrical spirit quest; songs conveying feelings of warmth and contentment complement those of emptiness and longing while fearlessly laying bare the emotions of a relentless group of young men driven for success in the unforgiving industry they love.

Their newest EP "Good Morning" was released in March 2012. They were then invited into an esteemed artist development program the Peak Performance Project that has helped launch the careers of bands like Said the Whale and Current Swell.