Debut albums by young bands are beasts all of their own, reflecting the pure energy rush of youth and enthrallment even as the lyrics dig deeper concerns that those of just adolescence. We understand that, and we embrace it as a first flush of exciting creativity. Evans The Death, five fresh-faced youngsters brought to us by the usually reliable Fortuna Pop! label, fit this ideal pretty snugly – fizzy, charging, loud indie pop songs, some reflective moments and the impression underneath that there’s plenty of room for development from this point, as good as it is by itself.
It helps that in main songwriter Dan Moss and singer Katherine Whitaker they have a writer/performer dynamic power duo, he with a neat faux-mundane turn of phrase, she in possession of a vocal style that can make elegant ennui and keen anticipation sound like the same thing. Whether intentionally or not that does suggest echoes of the Long Blondes, not just in their similar working practices but in the way seemingly trivial details and the minutiae of relationships are brought together into a whole. ‘Catch Your Cold’ has Whitaker list things she’s afraid of, including “my neighbour’s dog” and “public transport officials”, before in the chorus concluding “I’m not afraid of catching your cold”.
While they can pull off a slower, more reflective moment of self-consideration such as ‘Letter Of Complaint’ with its open, softer sound and Whitaker cooing about not wanting to go out just in case everything goes wrong, they seem more confident when scuffing up power pop. Sonically its scratchy, often fuzzed-out nature never crosses over into outright lo-fi as producer Rory Attwell (increasingly a name to watch behind the mixing desk following his work in the past year with Veronica Falls, Fair Ohs and Novella) makes sure everything still remains clear if not clean.
If there’s any consistent comparison to be made it’s as spiritual offspring to the “Blonde” mini-scene of the late ’80s, specifically the way the Primitives and the Darling Buds shaped pop melodies into something less definite and achieved some crossover success with it. ‘Telling Lies’, the most approachably cleaned up and jangly hook-heavy track here, has it in spades. Less straightforwardly ‘Sleeping Song’, a song actually about not sleeping (“sleep is a party but my name’s not down so I’m not coming in”), soars out of the blocks and pinballs around a ratchety melody, going full-on for the chorus, while working in the line “the sun is coming up like a hungover socialite” and suddenly cutting off after the second chorus into a single guitar figure. Then there’s ‘Threads’, which begins like fuzz pop’s equivalent of Apocalypse Now, a wall of feedback from which emerges a spectacular buzzsaw riff and a taut, frantic two minute rush of noise and on-edge lyrical confusion in which Whitaker bemoans being forced to watch the 1984 BBC nuclear war fallout docu-drama of the same title. That’s followed by ‘A Small Child Punched Me In The Face’: a voice-and-guitar miniature becoming a full band ragged stomp which is nearly as good as both its title and its first line “I believe that children are the scourge of our streets”.
As is inevitable with such a record it’s not completely consistent, even sometimes within the same song, and it runs out of steam at the end, but with its bruised adolescent anxiety translated into nervous energy with a semi-hidden intelligence, a sense of humour and a winning way with rocket fuelled distorto-pop shapes it’s a very fine start.