Eagulls | s/t (Partisan)

cd eagullsVocalist George Mitchel is doing his best to channel the late Ian Curtis, especially on album standouts “Possessed” and “Footsteps.”

 

 

On their 2014 self-titled release, Leeds, England’s Eagulls serve us up their version of guitar-driven post-punk. Lyrically, this is a dark album covering distress, heroin abuse, assault, and general disenfranchisement. Musically, the album is just as dark. The cover art sets the tone for things to come: a burned-out car cordoned off by police taken in the car park of council housing. With Eagulls already having a reputation for brash and brazen antics prior to this release, the album lends itself to that image. 

The album kicks off strongly with “Nerve Endings,” and doesn’t really let up on the gas from there. (Featuring footage of a decomposing brain, the video for “Nerve Endings” led them to a spot of trouble, complete with a police raid on their flat.) They blaze through these 10 songs at a rocket’s pace, going over the troubles of today and the general malaise that affects contemporary youth. These issues never seem to go away; they are the same things Joy Division sung about 30-plus years ago. The dual guitar attack is unrelenting, with the swirling, fuzzed-out noises one would expect in shoegaze. Eagulls are not afraid to ratchet it down just a bit for tracks “Tough Luck” and “Amber Veins,” adding some catchy melodies into that swirling vortex of guitar noise. Vocalist George Mitchel is doing his best to channel the late Ian Curtis, especially on album standouts “Possessed” and “Footsteps.” They close things with the punishingly loud “Soulless Youth.”

Let’s be very clear here: This is not music to make you happy or put you in a cheerful mood; most post-punk isn’t, really, if you think about it. Eagulls are not breaking new ground, nor are they trying to. This is the sound and feel they wanted, and they dive in full force with it, their influences on their sleeves. My only real criticism is that the songs start to blend together and sound the same with subsequent plays. It’s rare that a post-punk band offers a lot of variety to their sound, and that can be a good and a bad thing—only time will tell. If they continue on—and I hope they do, as this is great stuff—Eagulls need to expand on their sound, not be a one-trick pony of Joy Division knockoffs. B+ | Mike Koehler

RIYL: Joy Division, PIL, A Place to Bury Strangers

Standout tracks: “Nerve Endings,” “Tough Luck,” “Possessed,” “Footsteps,” “Soulless Youth”

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