Who Cares EP
17 April 2015, unsigned
Exmouth’s answer to the unflinching tides of indie rock entering the mainstream have been making ripples in the pond for a while now, though defiantly refer to The Simpsons as far their description goes: this is a rock band, not a bleedin’ splish-splash show. April’s Who Cares EP, following the eponymous iPad demos, really resonates. It doesn’t ripple the pond, it makes a heavy statement, diving in head first and shaking its hair in slow motion to a rapturous applause in excitement of what might follow.
The opening track ‘Get Ready Don’t Get Ready’ is bold, and as contradictory as its title suggests. On one hand the song persists with its jangling indie foundations despite its altruistic, effortless vocals. The Libertines guitar arrangement sets a heavily catchy backdrop for a bizarre self-assessment on a man’s relationship with a woman who enjoys watching property programmes on the television. Then, a bass solo in close quarters with one from lead guitar both become submerged into triumphant indie rock jams (which taste delicious). In a song where solos become interchangeable with riffs, the strong sunny refrain is sure to translate well to a live performance, complete with Pete Doherty’s ‘Don’t Look Back into the Sun’ drunken gaze.
“we’re in the aftermath of a punch-up between the Kooks and Alex Turner”
The opener sets a high standard in pace and melody, more than matched by the follow-up track ‘Nobody’s Special’. The beat becomes less urgent and melody more balladic, yet the vocal laxity continues in lyricism. Frontman Paul Sharpe contrasts apparent resentment (“nobody’s special, especially you”) with a melodic ending sequence of “He’s got his hand on your waist I’m gonna stand on his face and make him die”, although recognising he may be – a little – Jekyll and Hyde. Whether Jekyll and Hyde covers the magnitude of a revenge killing for brief human contact on someone who’s not special, or whether we’re in whole new Patrick Bateman territories is to be contested.
The jangling indie rock centrism remains, but with a more downbeat quirkiness, as if we’re in the aftermath of a punch-up between the Kooks and Alex Turner. Nobody was quite sure of the origins, or indeed who won, but The Wave Pictures provided the commentary and everyone seems cheerful. The four piece have come a long way since the Jeff Beck infused vocal sampling of the self-titled demos of last year, cleaning up the production from a considerable lo-fi base, and have turned into a very competent outfit.
“Less of the masochism, more of the restraining order, all of the incessant catchiness.”
The final track on the three-song EP is the strongest. Aside from vocally, there isn’t much similarity between Black Thistles and the often compared Arctic Monkeys. Just as “like Bob Dylan” is synonymous with “has words in the song”, and “like alt-J” bywords “doing something different” for all NME’s sycophants, “like the Arctic Monkeys” has become “anyone with a distinctly English accent”, their Glastonbury 2013 performance aside. Song three, ‘Deerstalker’, continues in the same vein as the other two, with a punchier drum track underneath. Not to contradict myself too much (though, it would be fitting with the EP), the construction of the song wouldn’t be out of place next to ‘My Propeller’ on Turner’s Humbug.
The discordant guitar patterns feedback slightly, before the solid 4/4 signature returns – carrying through from first song to last – amid the vocals which mirror the rhythm guitar perfectly, layering themselves directly on top of the beat. This time, it’s less standing on a rival’s neck and killing them to keep the girl, more an honest admonition of “I want you to myself”. Isn’t honesty always best? Less of the masochism, more of the restraining order, all of the incessant catchiness.
Tristan Gatward, Online Music Editor