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Live Review: Retiree are cold and evocative on 'Magic Eye' ft. Sui Zhen

23 July 2018 | 3:51 pm | Max Lewis

Melbourne trio Retiree have dropped the cold and nuanced 'Magic Eye' ft. Sui Zhen, alongside a quirky but uplifting video directed by Joey Knox.

I love me some cold music. Reverb soaked synths? I'm there. Depressing and barely audible vocals? Sign me up. Lethargic, far-away beats? Don't stop. Modern coldwave is a bit hard to come by in these parts, but thankfully RETIREE have given me a hearty dose of chill with their latest single 'Magic Eye', featuring pop artist SUI ZHEN. They've also announced their impending release of their debut LP House or Home via Rhythm Section in September, because there's no better time to celebrate the cold than when it's just starting to warm up.

RETIREE have been bopping around the Aussie circuit for a little while. As a four-piece, they dropped a handful of singles and two EPs of 80s tinged groove pop. Now a 3-piece, they showed off a more nuanced and cold sound with 'Pumice Stone', the first taste of their upcoming LP. Written before a breakup and completed after it, 'Magic Eye' is distant and troubling track putting on a determined face of synth-pop.

With a laid-back drum machine and distant, shoegaze-like guitar, 'Magic Eye' stands out as the most forlorn Retiree cut yet. Synths drone in a low rumble, complementing the refrained and contemplative vocals. The way the track shifts instantly to a more minimal and upbeat sounding chorus is masterful, giving the otherwise downtrodden track little glimmers of a light at the end of the tunnel here and there. Similar to the vocals on her solo efforts, Sui Zhen's contributions are subtle and refined, adding to the track in a stunning way. Whether harmonising with the main vocals in a breathy whisper or soaring with falsetto melodies, Zhen's feature is what boosts the track up from a fantastic song to a 'holy shit' song.

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The accompanying video, directed by Joey Knox, builds on the themes of the song efficiently while keeping the surreal and cold aesthetic of previous Retiree videos. That blue colour grade I loved from the 'Pumice Stone' vid is back, making what should be colourful vistas look muted and harsh. The narrative depicts a downtrodden farmer stumbling upon a seemingly lost plant-woman. He rescues her and her similarly plant-like children, and finds purpose in his life through caring for them. It's well made and has a decent dose of quirkiness, which brings up the tone of the track nicely.

We've heard two phenomenal tracks from the Retiree debut House or Home already; when it drops in September I have no doubt it'll stack up to be one of 2018's best releases.