Album cover artwork for Breakfast For Pathetics by Tired LionLush grunge guitars, bright yet burnt vocals, and a certain kind of slacker grace: Tired Lion’s sophomore LP sees singer-songwriter Sophie Hopes hitting her stride with almost lackadaisical poise.

There’s a line in Tired Lion’s break-out hit Fresh (2017) which goes: “Idiot, you made me rhyme.” It’s a reference to the sobbingly delivered poem in beloved ’99 teen film 10 Things I Hate About You, which is an amended version of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 141 (1609). But there’s an even more direct nod to the Bard in new album Breakfast For Pathetics: a song titled Drama Club, which pleads “Please tell me you’re into Shakespeare.”

“I have always been a drama kid,” frontwoman Sophie Hopes admits. “For Year 12 practical assessment I chose a monologue from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and I was Titania, the queen of the fairies. When I’m drunk I tend to rattle off a bit of Shakespeare – it’s just fun – but it’s weird though, because when you play the character, it’s not you. I think it’s more daunting getting up on stage and playing [your own music]. It has so much vulnerability behind it.”

If it’s intimidating lifting the veil on personal feelings within her music, Hopes has met that challenge entirely head-on with this new collection of searing, beautifully melodic, grunge-bathed tracks. Written solo after moving plumb across the country (from Perth to Brisbane, to be with musician, producer and partner Luke Boerdam of Violent Soho), the album hollers ‘more’ from its adventurous recording techniques to the scream which opens first track Diet Sick – much like the clarion call which opened the band’s debut. “I call it the pterodactyl scream!” Hopes smiles.

“It’s funny you mention that scream, because in Japan [from debut Dumb Days]… the rest of the guys were like, ‘I don’t like it’ – so I had to really fight for it,” she says. “But for Breakfast For Pathetics, I had all the control. So I [did] it again but this time, way bigger! I did all the demo’ing at home by myself; I put heaps of distortion on a microphone and I think I had a couple of drinks, and went death metal on it. Pretty happy with the result.”

You’ll hear another vocal rib in Waterbed (a song which contains so many nostalgic salutes, from the kazoo to the whistling to the Eels-like opening organ chords to the title itself): an announcement of the impending guitar solo. “So, I love Pavement,” says Sophie, “and they always do quirky little things like that. But I kind of did it as a joke, ‘cause… I’m actually playing the solo. I was taking the piss being like ‘Guitars!’, because ‘guitars’ is me.”

The magic was solidified by what Hopes calls “Studio Land” – her term for the experience of recording, sleeping, eating, essentially living at The Grove studios on NSW’s central coast. “It became this whole different world. To me, Studio Land versus real life? I want to live [in Studio Land] forever. It’s just the best. There’s no worries, you’re just dedicated to the music, and I remember feeling 100% on top of the world,” she enthuses. “I felt like, ‘This is supposed to be what I’m doing, with my life.’”

Breakfast For Pathetics by Tired Lion is out Nov 20 via Dew Process.

Buy now at JB Hi-Fi

Keep up with the latest Australian release dates for music.