This 4 track eponymous EP is the first release by the band but they were together under a different name prior to this. Opening track “Am I Awake” begins with sweet and melancholy sounding guitars which are layered upon each other until joined by a simple piano line and solid but decorative bass and drums. It is at this point I hit my first snag, when the somewhat indie-ish vocals come in. As soon as the vocals come in, I turned off. Not because they are poorly done (although to my ears it is sung in a somewhat affected indie-kid style) but simply because I didn’t like them. This is obviously a bit of a problem when reviewing the EP, so having made my point about the vocals, I’ll stick to reviewing the rest of it. The song moves from melodic languor to a slightly out of place post-rock interlude, which then fades back into the opening verse accompanied by a well judged kids xylophone.
“Danger Danger” kicks off with an interesting riff that seems to come from somewhere between post-rock and power pop. Accomplished instrumental work piles on the professional pounds and despite not being musically to my taste, they are obviously a well practiced band who know their instruments and the sound they want to get from them. I would have to give particular credit to the drummer who seems to enjoy inserting little percussive flourishes in throughout which really add to the solid sound of the band.
“A Calendar Year” has more layered guitars and a drum driven intro. It occurs to me that high production values abound on this EP, if in a somewhat Spartan way. Simple studio techniques have given a fragile, minimal feel to the EP, but it also occurs to me at this point that the band is quite serious. There isn’t much respite from this and while I applaud bands taking music seriously, this EP is starting to make me think that if the band were going to film a video for one of these tracks, it would probably feature some of the following: leaves blowing about, empty beaches in winter and/or slow motion. Their quiet / loud / quiet approach is well handled but somewhat formulaic and the first similarities start to form in my mind; that the band are a sort of English Sigur Ros (minus the eccentricities and reverb) meets Explosions In The Sky (but with unnecessarily elongated vowel sounds).
“Leave Us Here” digs out the kids xylophone again but I’m starting to get the riffs muddled up. All this low-key, post-rock shoe-gazery is starting to become one in my mind. Thankfully the intro settles into an interesting and distinctly stylish verse which, after a quick burst of acapella “ba ba ba-ing” leads to the main body of the track which is propelled along by emotional instrumental work and some strangely exciting handclaps. This is the band operating at their best and all of a sudden you can see them headlining at Glastonbury or some such “music” festival.
This band is good. It is a pity I am utterly unmoved by their music. They have taken very few if any risks with this record and it strikes me as a record that has been strategically planned to attract as many listeners as possible by filing off any rough edges. There is nothing wrong with this, but personally, I want to listen to an album and come away feeling drained, disgusted or exihilarated. Not wanting a cup of tea.