Friday, 23 October 2015

Evans The Death: Expect Delays

I came to Evans The Death after I discovered the fantastic Sledgehammer on an indie disco playlist, and wanting to hear more of the band, I decided to have a listen to their most recent album, Expect Delays.

This album is an evocative journey through the rain-soaked streets and platforms, electric-lit interiors, and damp-fogged window panes, presumably of Evans The Death's present day London. That being said, the album definitely conjures up memories of growing up in the late 1980s and, in case I'm showing my age, the 1990s. It is this masterful capturing of such an Autumnal mood makes this album so quintessentially British, and ultimately a success. Released in early 2015, it's just coming into its own for me as that familiar bite is coming into the air.

Like those massages where a small person is paid to walk up and down your back, I play this album to lightly pummel my brain, and it effects most agreeable results. Katherine Whitaker's rich vibrato voice is the delivery vector for the poignancy that weaves and threads through this album, both under its own steam in the slower and more measured passages, and with rest of the band "blowin' like a hurricane" (Sledgehammer, Bad Year) and driving the whole thing inexorably along, her vocal still has the power to cut through and soar above.

As I have more than hinted, Sledgehammer is my obsessive listen from this album. It's the tour-de-force for me both of the darkly honeyed vocals and the intricate yet powerful Mosses' guitar (that opening riff!). The guitar and bass on this track, as so often in the rest of the album, trick us with such unexpectedly contrary directions at times. On "it'll take your breath away" and "I'll be there to bring you down" I worry there will be a burn mark on my hard drive from rewinding the track to listen and re-listen to those phrases (+1 volume each time) - everything just builds up so beautifully, and the album's emotion boils just a little over the surface. If the words at the start of the second verse really do go, "I get hammered alone to pass the time", then I am delighted.

A contrast between light and dark was once cited to me as one of the contributing factors in producing effective music. This album has it in spades, from the rough and dirty intro to Terrified to the rhythmically fascinating Bad Year with its close guitar harmonies and delightfully messy conclusion. The title track Expect Delays captures the understated melancholy (this album does not feel sorry for itself, but feels nonetheless) and the the opening bars and voices that chatter behind speak to me of damp Monday mornings. I have always had an obsession with the extremes in the hours of daylight we experience in these northern climes, and they have undoubtedly touched this song, along with the entire album to which it gives its name.

Fundamentally though, having written all of this, I listen to this album because it makes me happy.

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