There’s something interesting happening in Ireland. Here’s another music scene that seems to have picked up pace in the last couple years, with a number of young bands emerging, and to some extent establishing themselves, with a clear intention to try and do something different and find their own voice. This is also the intention animating this new EP release by Dublin sextet THUMPER, who describe themselves as post-melodic but come across, in this record, as somewhat of an hybrid between hard rock, noise pop and psychedelia. It’s definitely yet another testament to the current vitality of the Irish scene, and an intriguing record from a band that has the potential to deliver something remarkable by expanding on the suggestions that emerge here from its five tracks.
In more than one point Out of Body Auto-Message makes brave choices. Firstly, in its dabbling with longer tracks, something that is increasingly rare these days, especially in a record that dabbles abundantly with pop suggestions: opener (You’re Bringing Me) Down is over seven minutes long, and the last song on the record, 3am & Restless – more on that later – sits at ten minutes square. This is not simply a debt to the traditions of prog and psychedelic rock, though that is certainly an element in it, but a genuine attempt to play with something more long-form than the pop industry has long become accustomed to, and it is to the credit of the band that these longer tracks don’t lose pace nor coherence, and don’t become tiresome to listen to.
As a whole, the sound of the record is generally quick-paced and bouncy, which gives it a good potential for live performance, with a connecting thread represented by more or less subtle distortions thrown in at strategic points, conjuring, at their best, a sense of unease and instability which belongs very well in an EP that seems to have as one of its core themes the reaction to the pressure placed on us by society. These sound oddities and distortions work particularly well on guitars, and the opening track has an excellent instrumental bridge with a very personal, intriguing sound. Half Light, which rather deliberately subverts the genre of the pop ballad, is an excellent example of this, and perhaps the most truly experimental song on the record. Listening through the five tracks, one is reminded of Velvet Revolver – especially in the more aggressive, cutting tracks, like AFL – and both Oasis and Blur, with something surfacing here and there that goes all the way back to the later Beatles; but amidst the old school rock-pop suggestions, tracks like this have something very authentic to them.
Much of this reads like a good starting point, and there is an impression that the band has plenty of charming ideas to play with, but while the record remains an easy and pleasant listen, these ideas are not always fully developed, or developed to the best of their potential. The closing track is an excellent example of this – a drawn-out piece that ramps up the chaos using changes of pace, noise work, heavily distorted, gasping vocals, to reproduce a sense of a hallucinatory state that is in keeping with the themes of the record but, here, not entirely convincing. It is a good idea, and defiant of expectation, to end a record that had hit the ground running on a slow, murky fade, but there is also an impression that this same idea could have been delivered in a tighter, more effective way.
Regardless, the EP remains a solid and, most importantly, promising work, sounding more original and self-assured in its second half, like it has found its feet – and even when experimentation is only half-successful, it’s by far preferable to the trite repetition heard far too often on the pop scene. In its attempt to push its own limits, this record must be lauded: when it manages to do what it had set out to, it can be impressive, and when it doesn’t, it still shows the trappings of charm and potential.
Out of Body Auto-Message is out now on Reckless Records – the EP is available on limited edition vinyl and can be purchased here.