Hey Violet remain one of pop’s most interesting and offbeat formations. Their origin as a hard-rock band going through punk-rock and pop-punk transitions certainly helped them progress rapidly. That also contributed to expanding influences and musical competencies throughout the years.

The pop trio remained pretty quiet in 2020, only vaguely indicating they are up to something. 2021 revealed the announcement of three thematic EPs the band wants to bless us with. With the first one out and killing it, stakes are high, and the hype is bustling.

I want to breeze over the Problems EP with all the charm, beauty, and progress it encapsulates.

I first came across Hey Violet in 2017. I was impressed by the quality of the pop tunes and heartfelt confessions, but what hit me hardest was the journey they walked to get to that stage.

The formation explored hard-rock, punk-rock, and pop-punk to eventually get to what their hearts craved. That is a beautiful mix of substantial pop music with unexpected instrumental break-downs incorporating plenty of diverse influences. 

Charming even in the teenage drama stage

Over the years, Hey Violet would keep the rapid progress as a distinctive element of their music. New influences, various stunning aesthetics, more complex instrumentals, and deeper lyrical content with increasingly more thought-provoking themes kept appearing. 

Watching Hey Violet’s journey is heartwarming and inspirational. We saw the romanticized, sweet representation of teenage drama in From The Outside (2017), followed by the mature self-understanding and exploration of feelings in 2019’s refined singles. 2021 brought us Problems – a complex and overwhelming strain on the heart and mind typical for the mid-20s of today’s youth.

Problems consists of only four tracks, but the refined instrumental, vocal, and lyrical execution are enough to keep listeners going until the next one drops.

The plan, as Hey Violet announced, is to release three thematic EPs this year. That calls for short tracklists but powerful emotions and self-exploration.

Problems isn’t just about loneliness but also loss. Going through the process of writing these songs, I always felt like a chunk of me was missing so whether it felt like I was losing my connection with myself, wondering if I ever had it, or being let down by lovers or friends, there’s that general theme of incompleteness.

Rena Lovelis for The Honey Pop

The first EP sways around confusion, loss, and rising fears. Rena Lovelis managed to transcribe the overwhelming emotions and mind troubles during a devastating depressive episode (let’s say it as it is – early mid-life crisis).

The best thing about the EP is the unorthodox combination of heavy topics and cheerful, funky instrumental support. Focusing on the music creates an irresistible urge to dance along the rapidly changing build-up and sing your heart out during the addictive chorus/post-chorus moments.

The lyrics, however, unveil an overwhelming story of serious issues that can take their toll on one’s psyche.

The aesthetics though

The title track sounds like a cheesy love song on the surface. The addictive chorus/verses and poppy melody form a deceptive coating. 

Even though “love song” fits Problems as a classification, the track exposes a very delicate and relevant phenomenon. It shows Rena catch herself in the toxic behaviour of falling for red flags, unable to resist the temptation. 

If you keep looking at me like that (problems)
If you keep on touching me like that (problems)
If you keep on thinking what I think, you might be thinking then
I think, I think, I think we’re gonna have (problems)

The track has a flirty, easy-going vibe despite the complicated theme. Dancing and singing along to Rena’s lines is a given.

The classic pop melody construction gets elevated by broken-down guitars and unexpected, explosive build-ups to create a strangely fitting soundtrack to the toxic love story.

When I was writing it, though, I felt almost as if I was attracted to peoples’ red flags. The attraction I’m singing about in the song is really based off of seeing those red flags and romanticizing how detrimental that might be to my psyche. I feel like I was in a really lost place when I wrote this, always confusing red flags for an invitation to be with someone.

Rena Lovelis for The Honey Pop

Breaking Up With A Friend is another dance-infused emotional avalanche. It deals with the realization of the need for a tough break-up. The worst part is that the separation is not only with a lover but with a dear friend as well. 

The emotional substance is sky-high. The playfully catchy tunes transform the track into a powerful break-up anthem. 

Despite the overall sad undertone, Breaking Up With A Friend shines with the celebration of taking a brave step for your mental well-being. It also pays tribute to the necessary grief that follows every end of a relationship. 

Your misery loves my company (hey)
Love has come and gone, just like the weekend
It hurts so much more in the end
When you’re breaking up with a friend

Dear Love is a song that does not hide the sad tone and emotional strain too much. Tones of references and great wordplay construct a powerful metaphor escalating with each line.

The track explores different love-related feelings including intoxication, need for affection, regret, pain, and heartbreak. The questions presented beautifully by Rena are weather love is real and are all the negative side effects worth it.

I’m outta my head, I’m outta my mind
I spill my thoughts on the dottеd line
Dear love
I hate all these feelings, I gotta get them out
Right now

References towards coping with the pain and heartache also appear. Rena mentions the need to write her feelings down, resulting in the particular song.

There is a strangely comforting vibe around Dear Love created by the heartfelt vocal execution radiating understanding and support towards others in the same situation.

The soothing, peaceful sound and the lovely instrumental break at the end of the song also contribute to that effect and make it a stunning piece to indulge into.

The tracks in the EP get progressively hard-hitting. Reflections has some powerful lines that would resonate with anyone in a state of loss and confusion about their life.

Every day’s the same
Have you been plagued by the thought of just runnin’ away? Yeah
But I know that even if I did, my feelings won’t change

The track explores depression and facing your fears. Taking important decisions and feeling the pressure surrounding them appear at the front lines. The mental overwhelming that our minds create and the growing phenomenon of overthinking get exposed ruthlessly.

And it’s so strange how all the things I used to love
Just make me feel so numb now (Feel so numb now)
My thoughts a constant war, I’m laying on the floor
I fight until I’m worn down (Until I’m worn down)

Despite the devastating themes, Reflection leaves listeners with a hint of comfort due to the high relatability and the understanding that those phenomena are natural for everyone.

The track is one of Hey Violet’s deepest, most relatable, and relevant tracks yet.

The return Hey Violet orchestrated is beyond impressive – from the individual and musical evolution to the renewed aesthetics, the band came back with a bang.

We will likely explore Rena’s transformative journey during the EP trilogy. The first part demonstrates a good starting point. Being low and feeling lost sets the stage for what inevitably comes next.

The second EP really focuses on what I attempted to do to fill that void I felt. Whether it was with people, relationships, cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, or other shit, I was desperately leaning into those vices and trying to find something that would satiate the longing for wholeness.

Rena Lovelis for The Honey Pop

With chapter two unveiled, we still don’t know what the third instalment would be about, but the best bet would be the rebirth and healing that follows after the toughest period.

The road to happiness is never a straight path; that’d be much too easy, I think. But these songs really encapsulate this road I’m on, and I think so many other people are on as well.

Rena Lovelis for The Honey Pop

Hey Violet is back on the scene, ready to freshen up the boring, overplayed pop clichés and show us what life and love are all about – a journey of self-exploration and growth despite the pain and hardship that sometimes accompanies it.

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