Right back from being in my teens, I’ve enjoyed listening to bands that maybe weren’t big names in the commercial world of the “top 40” (and beyond...), but whose music was infinitely better than the tunes that regularly drifted out across the airwaves. Thirty or so years on and little has changed, except I am now able to call some of these talented musicians “mates”...
Steph and Mark are two members of West Midlands-based rockers
This Elegant Chaos and courtesy of the postman I now have a signed copy of their new 5-track EP which I promised to “review” via my hugely popular( ish) blog.
Having played their self-titled debut four-tracker to near death, this new offering must come under the heading of “departure”, or perhaps more accurately “progression”; certainly the almost soppy sentiments of their (albeit superb) “love song” Everything are nowhere to be seen on this new CD, which is entitled Darkness Falls.
The atmosphere and lyrics are now altogether different... I would have used a word starting with “dark...”, but the band beat me to it – and the guitars are far heavier, maybe even grungy (if that’s a word) in places. I am not going to try and sound smart by pretending I recognise influences that I could easily copy from their Facebook page, but after listening through the five songs, there was this nagging memory of a guitar sound from another era and a seemingly unrelated genre...
The band in question were Derbyshire’s finest punks Anti Pasti and if you can find the original version of No Government and Another Dead Soldier then have a listen to the raw, heavy guitars (not necessarily the pace of the songs...) and maybe you’ll hear a vague similarity.... or maybe you won’t. At some points, I was also reminded of American Hi-Fi’s first album... yeah, I know, sound really knowledgeable don’t I?!!!
As regards the lyrics; in many ways I suppose it’s “easier” to write about the more difficult times (otherwise you end up with Day Trip to Bangor and to be honest, that wouldn’t really work); periods of life, or certain events can have a major effect on anyone, but with age (and I use the term relatively) comes a maturity and objectivity that can allow some element of positive reflection... a choice that the “black mirror” simply doesn’t offer.
Introspection is one thing; but having the talent to translate thoughts and emotions into words and music is something else altogether... And whether revealing life memories and exposing unseen recesses through music ultimately provides closure... well only the writers in the band will know for certain, but I have genuine admiration for their individual and collective ability... and for the brave step in offering things that are intensely personal for public consumption.
There is desperation throughout this record... “the black mirror’s gonna take my soul...”,“drain me of everything and leave me empty...”, “all I can do is die...”, “you must feel the pain... feel pain again to feel alive...” – and the strength (and obvious importance) of the lyrics is emphasised by the stop-start nature of some of the guitar work, allowing no
distraction from Steph’s voice and what she has to say.
I did have to do a double-take when track 4 started... it doesn’t half look like “BUM”on the cover; fortunately it’s actually called “BURN” and the more up-tempo track allows Mark’s drumming to come to the fore...
This EP definitely grows... the best thing you can do is give This Elegant Chaos a listen and judge for yourself, but if you enjoy meaningful lyrics coupled with excellent musicianship... then I reckon you won’t be disappointed.
All my own work... almost.