Monday 5 July 2010

Sleepless Nights EP - Homework

Why anyone would name their band after the worst part of going to school, I don’t know. I’m getting ‘Nam style flashbacks just thinking about it. Thankfully I have the band’s charmingly agreeable tunes to chill me out.

Homework’s well-structured five-track debut EP opens with the title track, Sleepless Nights, a song whose jaunty guitar-indie sound propels steadily onwards like a canal boat made of Stratocasters. One of the defining features of Homework’s music is the unashamedly Scottish accented vocals – a rising trend in Scottish music, which is sadly still under-utilised in favour of a damp trans-Atlantic manner. You’ll get none of that nonsense from these Edinburgh boys.

All I See opens with a sleek and sexy production of atmospheric synth, reverb-heavy guitar and strong bass that would make Garbage or The Cardigans proud, and proceeds to trot on with a steady pace as the catchy chorus comes along: “LIFE-style, NO style, MEAN while, MORE MORE money”. Possibly the catchiest song on the EP, All I See shows that Homework’s music has some humour to it too.

Aside from its swooshing progressive middle-eight breakdown, third track Forget About Everything continues with the synth beeps and swirls, the 90s guitar effects, the mid-tempo canter, and the bass, as thick and meaty as a salami, of the previous tunes. However, the closing tracks take on a more epic quality. With vocals and lyrics leaning more towards the ballad side of rock, and a structure that builds up to a peak in the third act, 'Havana' and 'We Should Not Regress' grasp the listener, hooked by the catchy first songs, and lift us out of the water with urgent drums and ringing guitar.

As Havana elevates, the quirky guitar riffs become clangy chords, the drums become more urgent and excited, the bass becomes funky and reminiscent of Flea in recent Red Hot Chili Peppers works, and the vocals become more intense, as it closes in on its climax.

The climax of We Should Not Regress, however, is more like a clapping-your-hands-above-your-head, save-the-world power ballad. The tune begins by playing analogue beeps, like a confused payphone, against a piano part, and then climbs steadily to its crescendo, and ends on an echoey voice sample.

The Sleepless Nights EP sits comfortably between the worlds of art-pop indie-rock and that epic sound that Scotland loves, without ever resigning to either side, and without ever suffering for it.
Myke Hall

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