The nightclub is a place that I have never fully understood or felt comfortable in. A dangerous psychological ecosystem where people attempt to try make an impression on each other in possibly the worst situation in which to try it. Where first impressions are key, and they are often at their most difficult.
First impressions are something that when I was younger I was told were the most important thing about your relationship/friendship/interactions with another person. Those first couples of seconds, never mind minutes, of meeting someone are crucial to how you will forever be remembered or viewed by that person – an idea that I have always found to be a bit contrived as nobody ever shows their true self the first time they meet someone.
And then a song came along that summed up this idea perfectly…
For a long time now I have been a massive fan of Donegal singer/songwriter Eve Belle, every since I first saw her perform as support for Frightened Rabbit at The Ruby Sessions in 2017. Belle has this unrivalled ability to write songs that sound positive and uplifting while at their heart containing strong and introspective ideas that leave the listener deep in their own thoughts, and First Impressions could well be her finest moment.
First Impressions is a truly fantastic exploration of the psychological minefield that is trying to approach a romantic interest on a night out, seeing the artist collaborating with Irish hip-hop act, Tebi Rex. Across the song, Belle and Matt O’Baoill of Tebi Rex expertly share the job of playing the different roles in a typical late night club interaction, with Belle playing the friendly yet uninterested love interest and O’Baoill the love struck boy trying to get her attention. We are treated to an excellent representation of the different viewpoints of our protagonists, as Belle tries to be polite despite being uninterested and O’Baoill tries to overcome his insecurity and show his genuine feelings. The song expertly shows the fact that despite both parties trying to be genuine, the complications that can arrive as people try to put forward their best selves can often leave to both companies feeling very awkward.
Belle’s character leaves us in no doubt that despite her efforts to be polite, she is sceptical of O’Baoill’s approach and is ultimately defensive of the situation, and even bored by the whole interaction. It is clear that she sees no future in their relationship.
“I know what you’re expecting, it’s there in your impression,
You wanted my attention, well I’m not going to keep you guessing,
From first impressions, I was quite accepting,
Only going to let you down, second time around.”
This defensive stance is completely juxtaposed by the thoughts of O’Baoill as we are made aware that he is genuinely romantically interested but is ultimately starstruck and trying too hard – something that is actually pushing Belle away.
“You’re so compelling,
Like it’s what you’re made for.”
We then see the effect that this failing approach is having on O’Baoill as well as he realises that he will ultimately be unsuccessful. But again, while this failure is being reflected on by O’Baoill he is actually unaware of the fact that Belle has been uninterested from the start, and her polite projections have been misread as interest by O’Baoill, who is interpreting it as a something he has jeopardised for himself.
“This first impression is a bad reflection of me,
Another fuck up, and I should shut up,
I just want to be,
Liked by you, and nice to you,
But I’m just a mess, and you’re not impressed,
I never thought it through.”
The middle eight is dedicated to an introspective commentary by talented wordsmith Max Zanga, the other half of Tebi Rex, on the mentality that everyone has when on a nightclub dance floor as they try to connect with the people around us.
“We’re just trying to impress and fend off depression,
By fencing my exes in some unsavoury mentions,
Save me a dance and save all our flexing ’cause, I don’t know,
First impressions ain’t worth shit,
We just claim that we’re joking but we’re really worthless,
First impressions don’t mean shit,
Just trying to hide it when it hurts like this…”
Ultimately the song posits the idea that first impressions are ultimately pointless and are never a true reflection of what a person is actually like. A powerful message that more people should heed.
First impressions don’t mean nothing.