Bridging the divide between the post-punk of the 1980s, and 1990s slacker rock, Leeds-based five-piece Eagulls are a band whose name has found itself in my inbox rather regularly of late. The handful of singles the quartet have released, coupled by their appearance at last year’s SXSW festival, has whipped up a veritable shit-storm of anticipation for their eponymous début, released in March. And while the hype machine does have a tendency to big up those within it’s clutches more often than is usually warranted, it seems Eagulls’ explosive combination of snarling punk cynicism and lo-fi aesthetics are worth every ounce of hyperbole.
Kicking things off with the previously released ‘Nerve Endings’ both tone, and precedent, for Eagulls are set. An emotionally tumultuous track, it rattles towards it’s respective conclusion with an urgent sense of claustrophobic aggression, with singer George Mitchell’s vocals a particular highlight; his acerbic, almost nihilistic delivery sharing more in common with 80s punk acts such as Fugazi or The Dead Kennedys than his contemporaries.
While most of Eagulls exhibits a paranoid and frantic post-punk ideal, drenched lavishly in reverb, there are moments of occasional clarity and optimism that permeate any feelings of claustrophobia and paranoia brilliantly. One early example of this is ‘Tough Luck’, which, while still featuring Mitchell’s trademark vocals, feels much more melodic (or as melodic as Eagulls go, at least), offsetting the tension of previous tracks at just the right moment. Another track which does this, and perhaps even more so, is ‘Possessed’, though any semblance of calm is quickly done away with, as the frenetic and venomous ‘Footsteps’ kicks in.
One song which stands out above all others is ‘Opaque’; filled with candour, hurt and aggression, it’s a track which harks back to early emo acts such as Jawbreaker and Rites of Spring, poised against a backdrop of 80s guitar-driven indie that softens the vocal delivery. Final track ‘Soulless Youth’ however, reverts back to Eagulls’ trademark post-punk paranoia, ending with Mitchell’s constant repetition of the track’s title over anarchic guitars.
Rarely do band’s live up to the hype that surrounds them, but Eagull’s not only live up to it, but exceed it. If their EPs and singles were a taster of the band’s energy and anger, then Eagulls is them in full flow. At ten tracks long, it’s a concise and angsts-y statement of intent from the band, an aphorism full of raw, unadulterated energy that sees a band starting their career off blisteringly.