Save the live albums and posters, this box set is in places an ironic account of the ‘bollocks’ we’re being told to not to mind. Whatever mechanical process Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood managed to shove these four miscreants through back in 1977, the product remained wild, unpredictable and universally offensive – it was punk. Whether these ‘original master tapes’ – that conveniently appear for most bands around a major anniversary – are genuine or not, Sex Pistols are not a ‘remastered’ kind of band, they just don’t have the intricacies of, say, Led Zeppelin.
The first anti-anarchic sigh of this ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’ comes as the (once characterful) warped start to ‘Holidays in the Sun’ appears straightened out. It’s the same with the half-baked synth on ‘Submission’, which now almost sounds as though it’s supposed to be there. Why not take all that horrific swearing out of the Bill Grundy interview while you’re at it? And, then there are the drums. The only instrument that is noticeably different is the least punk of the lot, and now sounds as though it’s being played 30 years after the rest. Thank punk ‘EMI’ is the last track. The irony of a remastered “Unlimited edition / with an unlimited supply”, makes you wonder whether – had the butter ads not come calling – it could have been another “reason / we all had to say goodbye”.
The selection of unheard tracks from ‘1977 Live’ and ‘1977 Studio Rarities & B-Sides’ are what this box set should have been sold on. Finally, an example of how modern recording techniques can uncover something that had really been lost, not just another goose strangled for its gold. ‘1977 Live’ is recorded across two dates in Stockholm’s Happy House and Trondheim’s Ssamfundet Club, when Sex Pistols were at their symbiotic best, giving and receiving from the audience in equal measure. A cover of Iggy Pop’s ‘No Fun’ in Rotten’s snotty drawl is a notable highlight, as is unreleased ‘I Wanna Be Me’ and the bombastic Happy House opener ‘Anarchy in the U.K.’ The rough mixes of ‘1977 Studio Rarities & B-Sides’ are unlikely to replace the originals for most, but give a sneering insight in to a chaotic development process. It’s easy to see why the likes of ‘Satellite’ didn’t make the final cut, whilst a demo version of ‘Belsen was a Gas’ (previously thought unrecorded) was purportedly written by Sid Vicious for The Flowers of Romance to unsympathetically mock the wartime generation then in charge.
There’s a poster for their 1977 U.K. tour entitled ‘Never Mind the Bans’, which includes five or six letters from venues with the gumption to turn them down in their prime. It alludes to the alchemic cultivation of chaos; the ability to turn the worst publicity, in to the best. The others in the collection are all a welcome break from the standard ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’ that adorns so many uni halls.
Apparently, there’s also a DVD – that Universal helpfully failed to include in the press release – that just could be the hidden gem. It’s meant to be a composition of footage from a surprise show in Penzance in 1977, remastered by director and long time friend Julien Temple, who described it as both “hypnotising” and “contagious”.
From the title of this box set, you would assume that it was aimed at the 15 to 20-year old demographic of young punks finding their forefathers. But, there’s no way a paper round would generate enough net profit to allow that to happen. Instead, the previously unheard tracks and rehashed videos make an ideal curio for an experienced Sex Pistols fan, who will now be put off by having to buy ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’, again. Like the Sex Pistols, there are flashes of brilliance against a backdrop of contradictions.
The Sex Pistols’ ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’ limited edition, super deluxe box set is out today on Universal Music.
Editor’s note: Ben and Luke both asked to review the new Dan Le Sac album so instead of assigning it to one, leaving the other empty-handed, I decided the best approach, given the close proximity of their humble abodes, was to lock them into a room together and hash out exactly what they thought about this album, examining each track one by one. Read on…
Two world-weary, casual music observers on a Tuesday night sojourn through the passage of irreverence into the clearing of inconclusiveness with just an album, a bottle of wine and an unplanned conversation…
Disclaimer: Expect facts to be few and far between.
‘Long Night of Life’ (feat. Merz) Ben: Well, the intro’s a bit like Stomp…but, would you say this crosses the border into pop music? Luke: He’s an electronic musician with vocals over the top. Ben: My point is, how does that differentiate from the majority of music in the charts at the minute? Luke: It’s basically something the Antlers would do, but the Antlers would do better. Ben: There’s a lot on the album that could be done better by someone else. Luke: He’s not going out there to set the world on fire. He’s gone one way and Scroobius Pip’s gone another. Dan Le Sac’s just thinks “Well, I should probably get something done too!” Ben: I suppose that’ll be the litmus test of this album. How he stands up without Scroobius Pip.
‘Play Along’ (feat. Sarah Williams White) Luke: It’s more jilted than ‘Development’. There’s a lot of skipping and heading back. But it’s more fluid than the stuff he was doing with Scroobius Pip. Ben: This track’s a lot techier. Luke: The singer’s kind of like Katy B. Ben: It’s that faux-cockney thing where they always turn out to be from public school. Luke: Exactly, like Jessie J did ‘Do it like a Dude’, and then it was like, ‘oh’. Ben: Who else is there? Kate Nash, Lily Allen. Luke: Who is now a riot girl? Lily Allen’s having babies. Ben: And, she’s’ retired’ from the music business… Luke: No one wants to buy pop off posh people anymore.
‘Memorial’ (feat. Emma-Lee Moss [Emmy the Great]) Luke: This is the one with Emmy the Great. She’s about on a par with how famous Dan is in these circles. Ben: It’s got a kind of Arabic feel to it, this one. Or, maybe a bit of James Bond; like a James Bond porno theme. The love gun aiming… You could dance to this though. Luke: You could sway to this; it’s bass heavy. Ben: But heavy enough? Luke: Not for me. It’s heavy for a pop track… If he didn’t have the vocal track, he could have been tempted to just put in a massive drop like everyone else. But, he’s kept it steady. Not like a lot of other artists who are just about the WOBWOBWOBWOB. Ben: Do you think a dubstep artist would have done it better? Luke: It reminds me of ‘Haunted’ by Digital Mystikz. Ben: How would you stack this against it? Luke: Probably Digital Mystikz. But, that’s because they’re dubstep artists. Ben: That’s exactly my point. Should he try it if he’s not qualified? Luke: It’s a different scene now. Dubstep’s more accessible to the public. When you’ve got the internet explorer advert with it on, then you know something’s changed. Ben: There’s a risk of being jack of all trades and master of none.
‘Reprisals’ Ben: Heavier start! A bit Pendulum-y. Luke: It sounds a lot like Thunder by the Prodigy. Ben: The Prodigy kind of picked up on the Pendulum thing when they came back. Luke: It’s ‘Insomnia’ but worse. You could see Rammstein walking on stage to this. Ben: You could see Rammstein walk off to this… heads down; going to cheer each other up in whatever way Rammstein do. Four on the floor… with Rammstein.
‘Tuning’ (feat. Joshua Idehen) Luke: I quite like it. Ben: It does have the odd profound moment, but you wonder if that’s accidental against the rest of it. “Often looking for my keys”? Luke: Well, aren’t you often looking for your keys? It’s relatable! Ben: … I have a place for my keys. I don’t spend much time looking, they’re always there. Luke: I think this would be better if it was done with Roots Manuva as the vocalist. Ben: I agree. So Roots Manuva could have done it better? Luke: Dan Le Sac didn’t write the lyrics. But it’s quite a decent beat to get involved with. Ben: … I’m certainly feeling involved. Luke: It’s got a pumping beat. Ben: But, where would you pump to it? Luke: An early ’90s rave hole. Ben: Maybe a 2012 interpretation video of a 90s rave hole. Luke: It reminds me of Clouds’ ‘Mighty Eyeball Rays’. Ben: The first bit had swagger. This is a bit stupid, a bit happy hardcore. Luke: This you hear glow sticks, before you heard grimy basement. Ben: And, I liked that basement, Luke. It wasn’t a Fritzl basement. It was more of a…. wine cellar.
‘Good Time Gang War’ (feat. B. Dolan) Luke: It reminds me of Digits but it’s not too dissimilar to ’05 dubstep. Ben: I think it’s more snare heavy, there’s no real beat to it. Luke: It could be darker, it would be better if he’d made it dirtier. Ben: It needs to go somewhere and so far it hasn’t. Luke: The songs with vocals are stronger than those without. There’s a lot of “that’s good but you know someone else could do it better.” This album was never going to be a 10/10. For me it’s currently 6/10, there’s definitely more positives than negatives. Ben: I think it’s a 5 so far, it’s nothing special. It’s more of a showcase than one thing done incredibly well. He had the opportunity to carve out a niche but he didn’t take advantage of his audience.
‘Hold Yourself Lightly’ Luke: There are a few songs I’ll listen to again, but it’s more of an album you’d stick on in the background than gather your mates round to, because there are not enough original hooks. Ben: I think Dan Le Sac’s fans listen to it on their own. Luke: Harsh.
‘Zephyr’ (feat. Merz) Ben: It reminds me of ‘Egyptic’ by L-Wiz. Luke: It reminds me of Gorillaz in a way. Not vocally but if there was more twinkle to it, it could easily have been on ‘Plastic Beach’. The vocals aren’t hooking me in, though.
‘Breathing Underwater’ (feat. Fraser Rowan) Ben: It’s not as good as Metric‘s song of the same name. Luke: A nice, hazy, chill-out tune. It reminds me of Renton in Trainspotting. Ben: It reminds you of an overdose? I’m not sure that’s a symbol of a good album. It’s bit like New Order and A Flock of Seagulls. But, it’s got that techy edge and if you remove the glitchy overtones it’s pretty much Kraftwerk.
‘Break of Dawn’ (feat. HowAboutBeth) Luke: It sounds like the intro to a slow ’90s pop track. Atomic Kitten will come out in a minute. Ben: It sounds like a Japanese car advert. Luke: I think it’s too interesting to be on an advert. Ben: I can see a Subaru cruising past in the rain to this; slow motion. Maybe we could send it in to Top Gear, it’ll get Clarkson’s juices going. Luke: I’m still sticking to my 6/10. Ben: You can imagine leaving a club to this. There’s too much ‘leaving’ on this album, either leaving a stage or leaving a club. Luke: This is when everyone has stopped dancing and they’re having a conversation but no-one wants to turn the music off. When you leave the dance floor to go to the bar, this is the song you’ll hear. Ben: Everyone else has got their coats on. It’s that sort of music. The barman is staring into an empty pint glass. Luke: The barman has called last orders and there’s a few people on the dance floor – that’s this song.
‘Caretaker’ (feat. B. Dolan) Luke: It’s an intergalactic funeral march. Ben: This track’s been better than the past few. This is people returning to the dance floor music. Luke: Maybe, the album is a journey? Ben: It’s a transitionary album! Luke: If you’re going to spend 51 minutes at a disco, this is the album you need to put on. It will guide you through. It’s an aural map to your night out. Ben: Split the album into two and have the first 25 minutes at the beginning of your evening and the second 25 minutes at the end. Luke: This song has counterbalanced the three before that weren’t very interesting. Not in a harsh way but it was needed to pick the album back up again. Ben: I feel like it’s a rush to the finish after the lull.
‘Beside’ Ben: It sounds like a David Firth cartoon. Luke: There’s a dead guy on the floor with no-one else around. Ben: And a cat is being used as an uzi. Luke: That’s when you know you’ve made it, when you’re the soundtrack to an internet cartoon. Ben: It’s sort of a shame the last song ended. The album has been a very mixed bag.
‘Cherubs’ (feat. Pete Hefferan) Ben: This last track has pretty much passed without incident.
Final verdict: Ben:Overall 5/10. Luke:I’ll go 6/10. There’s more good bits than bad bits. There are hooks there and the vocals on some tracks are great. Ben: He’s spread himself too thin. There are moments in it but it’s relatively forgettable. Luke: There’s a few tracks there that stick with me. Ben: The Wonga.com advert gets stuck in my head; that doesn’t mean it’s any good.
Dan Le Sac’s debut album ‘Space Between the Worlds’ is out now on Sunday Best (Rob da Bank’s label). You can stream it in its entirety below.
Leaping from a smattering of early season festival appearances, through the release of fourth studio album ‘Synthetica’ and on to their current UK tour, things have all of a sudden gotten hectic for Metric. It’s taken 3 years for this Canadian New Wave four-piece to follow on from the critically ambivalent ‘Fantasies’, leaving fans to question whether the turn of the Noughties had sounded their death knell. With ‘Synthetica’, a brooding and fathomless re-appraisal of band and self alike, that question no longer remains.
The opener, ‘Artificial Nocturne’, builds through a sinister synthscape, narrated by the ever present vocalist Emily Haines, into a rising cloud of static-like reverb, tied down by the driving crashes of drums and piano keys alone. The relentless industrial beat of lead single ‘Youth Without Youth’ (previous Video of the Moment here; live version from Montreal below) wouldn’t sound out of place on Nine Inch Nails 2005 release ‘With Teeth’, and the chorus lifts a key to create a blurry eyed energy that is enticingly danceable.
The ominous trill Spanish guitar trill on ‘Speed the Collapse’ opens in to a manic corridor of a prechorus, before being chased out in to the sanctuary of the choral hook. ‘Breathing Underwater’ has that mythical, triumphant sound of Angels and Airwaves or Take That’s comeback album; conjuring images of a band on a rooftop – hands aloft – bathed in an urban sunset. By ‘Dreams So Real’, this release hits an unfortunate mid-album lull, and the criticism of religiously repeated lyrics “aA scream becomes a yawn/I shut up and carry on” is one that was levelled, in part, to their 2009 album ‘Fantasies’. ‘Lost Kitten’ is bizarrely childish, while ‘The Void’ is a gratingly repetitive amalgam of their new wave roots.
Title track ‘Synthetica’ is an artsy, garage rock take on disenfranchisement and disillusion that sounds a little like an up tempo version of The Strokes’ ’12:51’, but with a bombastic finish that fires in to the sunny Californian r &b of ‘Clone’. ‘The Wanderlust’, with its cavernous call and response vocals (for some reason it’s Lou Reed responding), simple melody and tumultuous crescendo professes a level of vulnerability, really should be the last track of this album; the layered vocal and trance-like Arabic synth give closing track ‘Nothing But Time’ a sense of brevity that should really have been used to plug the gap earlier on.
What’s glaringly obvious from even the most fleeting of appraisals of ‘Synthetica’ is that it acts as an infinitely versatile scaffold from which to persuade fans of all eras back for a fresh take. There is a return to the originality of debut album ‘Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?’ – when Metric were almost as well known for being Yeah Yeah Yeah’s roomies – without in the commercial airs of ‘Fantasies’. It lands somewhere alongside the interstellar indie of the Big Pink, and goes far towards accomplishing Haines mission statement of representing “the original in a long line of reproductions”.
Metric’s fourth studio album ‘Synthetica’ is out now on the band’s own Metric Music International label.
Down in the foundations of Oxford Street, among the walls lined with pictures of 100 Club’s illustrious musical heritage, 18-year old folk singer Jake Bugg is set to continue his dizzying trajectory into the public consciousness. With his debut album set for release on the 22nd of October and having stolen the show at both Dot to Dot festival and on BBC’s ‘Later… with Jools Holland’ in the past fortnight, it is plain to see why so many critics have been quick to make hyperbolas comparisons to some of music’s biggest names.
Supporting is upcoming London soul songstress Natalie Findlay, who takes to the stage with an a capella intro, punctuated by percussive strikes on the microphone to create a dynamic reminiscent of blues legends Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday. Soon Natalie is joined by the final parts of her raw three-piece, who drop in to an upbeat Bo Diddley-style riff, as she ducks and winds provocatively while singing of ‘Gin on the Jukebox’.
The anticipation of the 200 or so gathered for this night is palpable as Jake Bugg fights his way through crowd to the stage. Rifling through his opening track – the as yet unreleased ‘Kentucky’ – he sets a swift pace and bare country tone that are continued throughout his burgeoning portfolio. He follows with a rare mellow punctuation that synchronises his characteristic vocal hum with expressive acoustic arpeggios in ‘Love Me the Way You Do’.
After a haunting solo rendition of early single ‘Someone Told Me’, Jake Bugg is joined by the rest of his minimalist three-piece for ‘2 Fingers’; an escapist number telling of joy at permanently leaving old haunts, his vacant stare and midlands patois add a sincerity to swamp country sounding ‘Ballad’, which belies his meagre years.
As his set progresses through the driving folk rhythm of ‘Seen It All’ and playfully absent lyrics of ‘Slide’, it begins to feel as though he is somehow reluctant (as with most great folk forefathers) to stick to the material that is currently fuelling his ascendancy. There is some relief in the crowd as he drifts seamlessly into the 21st century hobo ramblings of ‘Trouble Town’ and his organically simplistic solo on the much publicised ‘Country Song’ (currently the winning ingredient to brewer Greene King’s advertising campaign).
He tracks this rich vein through new single ‘Lightning Bolt’, which possesses an up tempo rhythm and transcendental lyrics that draw comparisons to both Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan circa 1965. While the innocence of lyrical love letter ‘Saffron’ wouldn’t jar the ears of ‘Abbey Road’-era Beatles fans (and is currently available free from his official Web site). He closes with the relatively unknown quantity of ‘Green Man’, whose shuffle has the crowd swinging, but a lack of depth and focus on regional charm may allude to a direction in which he may not wish to be pushed.
Having written solo material since age 14, it’s doubtless that a much larger back catalogue is propping up the peak of the iceberg we currently see, as his material matures into more adult worries. Tracking the success of Jake Bugg could turn in to a life long occupation, but the nature of such pure (and at times rebellious) form of music means us plebs will have to wait for him to do it on his terms. To use an agrarian analogy; a man who is so clearly making music out of natural compulsion should not be stressed until the milk turns sour.
There’s something unnerving about turning up to day two of any festival showered, with clean pants on and without the obligatory dried coating of mud. It lacks a sense of escapism, but such is the nature of the modern urban festival scene. Camden Crawl 2012 has so far proved itself to be far removed from these trappings and with today’s line up holding just as much promise as Saturday’s, alongside the odd wild card, it’s time to knock back the last of the Alka-seltzer and hop on the Northern Line for 13 more hours of sound, kicking off with Brighton’s own Tall Ships back at the Wheelbarrow.
It may be that they are reminiscent of such a recent revolution on our great spinning top – counting bands as recent as Battles and Minus the Bear among their contemporaries – that it feels like they’ve been around for years. With this subconscious respect for a band’s longevity that has yet to play itself out, it raises question marks as to why Tall Ships have been given the first slot in one of the smallest venues at the Crawl. Luckily, human nature is as predictable as this nautically minded indie three piece are talented, and the tide rises until the crowd touches the back wall in wide eyed appreciation. The sound is soaked in reverb; the bass is metronomic whilst the drums fly off machine gun paradiddles, back to their dynamic roost.
Evidently, hardcore survivors Rolo Tomassi miss the memo regarding ‘Action on Hearing Loss’ that is pasted across posters, pens, lanyards and loudspeakers, all the way down Camden Road. Koko lights up like the ungodly opener to a Luddite horror spectacular, with an incendiary mix of confusion and beauty played out across instruments subservient to the ‘Phantom of the Opera’ synth and blood curdling hardcore wail. Singer Eva Spence ducks and weaves in an interpretive coil as they blast through tracks such as ‘Takes You’, announcing their return to the studio next month with possible single ‘Romancer’, and finishing with the classic ‘Party Wounds’.
General crowd pleasers Kids in Glass Houses fail to fully ignite as they kick off in the wake of Rolo Tomassi’s set at Koko. There’s something not to be trusted about Welsh bands singing in American accents (cough…Lostprophets), and the crowd seem largely disinterested in this Kerrang! friendly brand of alt-punk, much to the annoyance of frontman Aled Phillips, who cries out for some kind of response. They start with the fist pumping single ‘Sunshine’ and (ironically) ‘The Best is Yet to Come’, before moving on to material from their 2011 album release ‘In Gold Blood’. At the front there are signs of life (mainly from people not old enough to be at the bar) that are seized on as Phillips plunges into the crowd after one stalwart female fan. But, looking like the opening scene from School of Rock, the majority of a baffled crowd parts. It’s a shame for such a critically acclaimed live act to endure a performance where both the crowd and the band have noticeably different expectations from one another.
At the far end of Camden, the hotly tipped art rockers Cymbals take to the stage at the Monarch and, in gluttonous royal fashion, the place is bursting at the seams. There are echoes of Talking Heads and Devo in the plucky syncopation of this sunny East London three-piece, with a Kraftwerk synth and smattering of regional charm. There’s just enough time to catch tracks ‘I Don’t Know Why You Bother’, the infectiously harmonised ‘Summer Escaping’ and ‘Jane’ (the closest this smiling trio will get to a ballad), before the trudge back to Electric Ballroom for some more up-and-comers, Dog Is Dead.
The boys from West Bridgford mix folk tinged indie with anthemic rhythms that, fused with panning lasers and backlit cloud of dry ice, temporarily render the Electric Ballroom otherworldly and limitless. Unlike your typical folk harmony of light intertwining melodies, there is a choral, almost Gregorian simplicity as all five members pitch in on tracks ‘Hands Down’ and ‘River Jordan’. Debut single ‘Glockenspiel Song’ is forged from the Arcade Fire mould, with a brave but complimentary return for the much maligned saxophone, and is received rapturously by the on looking crowd. Having gained national coverage on Huw Stephens’ Radio 1 show, as well as supporting acts such as OK Go and Bombay Bicycle Club (not to mention a cameo on Skins), the band are set for a hectic festival season and should not be missed.
Upstairs at the Enterprise, Zun Zun Egui (pictured at top) form a cheeky interlude before the pinnacle of the night’s proceedings. It may be the claustrophobic setting of this damp attic; the lyrics in English, French, Creole, Japanese and pure nonsense; or the frantic pace with which they kick off, but you can’t help imagining some kind of back story. Were these the Bob Dylans of mariachi, exiled for the electronic hoodoo they now embrace? Or, perhaps they learnt to play as a means to infiltrate a South American drug cartel? The reality – I’m sure – is far more sensible (springing by chance from the Bristolian avante garde scene), but there is an undeniable sense of mystery to this up tempo, energetic four-piece. With a capacity of no more than 100, the modestly gathered crowd are infected with rhythm from the complex sweet picked arpeggios and male/female call and response between guitarist Kushal Gaya, and Yoshino Shigihara on keyboards.
And finally, back in the cavernous surroundings of the Electric Ballroom it’s time for post-rock conquistadors And So I Watch You From Afar to call time on Camden Crawl 2012 with bombastic attack of instrumental progressive metal. As the boys from Belfast blast in to their opener there is the first whiff of an old school mosh, before the crowd begins to settle and chant their riffs as if they were lyrics. There is raw energy to this five piece; stabbing electronic connections like a Tesla Coil to their dedicated fan base on the final night of their tour. Almost fully silhouetted by a blood red glow, they dive in to tracks ‘BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION’ and ‘Set Guitars to Kill’ in triumphant style as word inevitably spreads and the crowd begins to swell. There is something in ASIWYFA that will always desire to be of niche appeal. But, with the room filling ever quicker and compatriots This Will Destroy You and Explosions in the Sky also in the ascendency, it seems that for the moment the fan base they are so thankful for will continue to grow. There is some truth in their track title, ‘A Little Solidarity Goes a Long Way’.
So, there it is. A festival of convenience with an eclectic line up that showcases the benchmark of music today. The skill though, is in keeping that and sense of escapism and adventure that are so integral to the rite of passage that is the ‘festival experience’, but so often lacking at inner city events. Camden Crawl 2012 shows that while the geography of Camden has arguably changed for the worse in recent years; in the tapestry of attics, back rooms, regency theatres and great halls of the borough’s iconic venues, there is still an abstract quality that is spawning our collective musical future.
There have always been echoes of Bon Iver and the Temper Trap about this group, but – for better or for worse – ‘Burial’ sees a calibration of influences on this alt-indie four-piece. Having released their first single ‘Post Gospel Blues’ back in 2011, Escapists have honed the gothic concept on their debut EP following months of touring the capital, culminating in lead track ‘Burial’ getting airplay on on Huw Stephens’ Radio1 programme this month.
It pains me to say, but it is evident right from the haunting vocal melodies and Radiohead’s ‘Street Spirit’-like drone of opening track ‘Ghost in Your Bedroom’ that since their last offering the guys haven’t got much further than an NVQ in ‘Atmospheric Music 101’. There’s a certain simplicity to the lyrics that allow them to float like a sinister lullaby throughout the verses, before being tied – with vocal melodies that Chris Martin wants back – to the minor key meander of the chorus. The track lifts with a notably organic piece of call and response between the vocals and the cello, but is sadly cut short.
Title track ‘Burial’ (video below) appears to pay homage to alt-indie forefathers Arcade Fire and their seminal album ‘Funeral’, with a marching paradiddle on a reverb soaked snare and guitars that focus more on rhythm than notes. There’s something uplifting about this number: a lyrical suggestion of contentment away from the cruelty of nature and the over arching realisation of time as both creator and destroyer of everything. The drums are the most free reigning instrument and lift this track to a satisfying crescendo that begs for some kind of slow-mo ‘got the girl’ kiss.
In ‘Witching Hour’, Escapists explore further how their spiritual wanderings can have tangible relevance to expectations of age and love. The choral line “you’re a ghost in my head now / you’re a spirit I can’t get out” is made old by the classical Spanish guitar trills, while the final track ‘Northern Lights’ sees the band freed from their mechanical structure with a swinging beat and chorus with such a hook that it overshadows the lack of a proper end to this track.
What is unavoidable about ‘Burial’ is that placing too much onus on one concept has left it restricted. While they fit the same mould as many bands who have forged their careers on the festival scene – and could easily sell – without some drive and originality to their instrumentation Escapists tread a path so worn by their predecessors that they risk becoming trapped in a landslide of mediocrity.
The new EP from Escapists, ‘Burial’, will be released next week (the 28th of May) on Euphonios Records.