Having recently attracted considerable praise via a triptych of mildly heady singles, London-based foursome Splashh described their essentially neo-psychedelic sound as being comprised of “Distorted grooves. Dreamy nostalgia. Melody” in a Line Of Best Fit interview late last year. Whilst such an assertion in the depths of winter from a band of their ilk will naturally induce half-visions of sunny days happily doing nothing, one wonders if Comfort, their debut full-length effort goes as far to deliver a worthy – and indeed memorable – soundtrack to doing just that.
Whilst it would seem the multi-national quartet (New Zealand and Australia claim three-quarters of the band’s birthplaces) don’t simply peddle the regurgitated hallmarks of their would-be genre like some (barely perceptible vocals shrouded in a fog of reverb, distorted open guitar chords and starry-eyed lead lines) they don’t exactly claw at the door of innovation either. Seeing Comfort off to an otherwise uncomfortable start, ‘Headspins’ owes as much to early Pixies (talk about “joining the queue”) as it does The Longpigs’ ‘Lost Myself’ harmonically, its fruitless nostalgic reverberations offering little to nothing in the way of a strong first impression to a newcomer.
Luckily, one song does not an album make; two of the aforementioned singles holding sway most amidst a handful of samey tracks all but maligned by insipid – perhaps largely unwitting – revivalism. Whereas the band’s debut single ‘All I Wanna Do’ is re-imagined as a incandescent mini-anthem propelled by Carlson’s wistful repartees and a barrage of coursing guitar, ‘Feels Like You’ proves itself to be – after a few listens, at least – a subtle, wonderfully starry-eyed dose of delectable garage-pop. “You’re a danger to yourself/A danger to no one else,” Carlson absent-mindedly mulls, the song’s tender undercurrent remaining masterfully inconspicuous throughout.
That said, whereas the synth-driven ‘Need It’ and ‘Green & Blue’ – the album’s lengthiest track at a whole 210 seconds – stand out as equally engaging peaks in Splashh’s ultimately uniform distillation of restlessness and youthful idealisation, the likes of ‘So Young’ and ‘Vacation’ are constrained by a marked dearth of compositional imagination, the latter of the two further maligned by Carlson’s languid vocal delivery, sadly reminiscent of one of the band’s primary influences in Oasis.
Having been lauded by some for their admittedly “no frills” approach, clocking in at just over a half an hour in length, Splashh’s debut album leaves one feeling simultaneously unfulfilled and somewhat drained. Constantly waiting for that ever-impending explosion of mind-expanding neo-psychedelic glory, Comfort dissipates feeling hackneyed and burdened by lacklustre platitudes despite the rare flicker of hesitant brilliance. Sure, the band are very liable to encounter many thoughts to the contrary – and all the best to them if it gets them out there and into people’s ears – but the reality of the matter remains the same: there are many bands out there doing what Splashh do, only much, much better. Until they hit upon their sound, look elsewhere.