Monday, March 19, 2012

DEADWALL Four Songs By... EP

I was mightily impressed with Deadwall’s first recordings when I came across them last June. Since then the West Yorkshire five-piece - Thomas Gourley vocals/guitars, Christopher Duffin keyboards, Rob Simpson guitars, Tom McCartney bass and Guy Raimes on drums - have been in the studio and this month release their first EP ‘Four Songs By...’ on CD (or as free download). The four tracks keep what made the demos so intriguingly catchy but add an extra depth and polish to their indie-art-pop. Field Music and Mystery Jets might be useful comparisons but also XTC (check that opening guitar on lead track ‘The Wakefield Questionnaire’). However Deadwall go much further than any of those bands in adding a fiery energetic drive to their cleverly constructed pop.

I kept my counsel like a Russian” says ‘The Wakefield Questionnaire’ but there is nothing reticent or demure about this propulsive, multipart, sub-3 minute opener - catchy, complex and perfectly formed, it’s the undisputed highlight of the EP for me. The mid-tempo ‘The Curse of the Black Widow’ opens with ornate piano motifs and falsetto vocals but layers in orchestral touches and humming harmonies – mysterious with elegant restraint. ‘Minus Two Words’ recaptures the forward momentum of ‘The Wakefield Questionnaire’: guitars alternate between scratchy and chiming, it all bounced along by a pneumatic rhythm section. Oh and there’s still time in its 2.47 running time for a Hammond organ break. The closing song is the more introspective acoustic-leaning ‘Metropolis, Sort Of’ which has some lovely horn touches in its second half but I don’t find it as inventively memorable as the earlier songs. Even so it’s still way ahead of run-of-the-mill.

Deadwall’s arrangements may be complex, even prog-leaning, but their propulsive energy, to-the-point brevity and great pop hooks keep them from sagging under any pretension or over-elaboration (no doubt aided by some down-to-earth Yorkshire common-sense too). A highly recommended purchase when released via Bandcamp at the end of this month.

The Wakefield Questionnaire by deadwall

Deadwall Four Songs [BUY]

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