By: Rich Buley
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Released on February 29, 2016 via Dog Knights Productions
Emerging from the veritable hotbed of musical talent that is Winsford, Cheshire, a couple of years ago, the now five piece alternative rock band Simmer have been cooking up a most appetising selection (sincerest apologies) of incendiary, meandering punk that deals largely with the tribulations and frustrations of life in a northern town.
Their sound up to this point has been a warm and enticing throwback (for this old fart) to the pace and fuzz of early nineties UK Decoy Records bands like Bivouac, Venus Beads and The Edsel Auctioneer. Now, following a couple of 4 track EP’s and a 7” released last May, comes Paper Prisms, the debut album, and it reveals considerably greater variety and poise to the band than their earlier material perhaps suggested, with amendments in speed, tone and arrangement indicating why they might refer to their style as ‘ambient punk’.
Not that openers ‘Faze’ and the under 2 minute ‘Control’ could, in any way, shape, or form, be described as ‘ambient’. ‘Faze’, in particular, is an absolute ripsnorter, with a dominant, coruscating riff rattling things along in old school, indie mosh-pit fashion, and Julius Schiazza’s rasping vocal, which sounds faraway rather than buried throughout the album, fitting perfectly with themes of longing, loss and small-town neurosis.
It is with the following ‘Antwerp’ and instrumental ‘Calendar’ that Simmer start to slow things down, and deliver two experimental, semi-improvisational ‘pieces’ (again they’re only clocking a couple of minutes each) that still have a significant sonic edge to them, but are playfully arranged and begin to give the album the wider appeal that I have already referred to.
All tracks are segued into each other by way of lingering feedback, and it feels like a deliberate attempt by the band to create an all-consuming feeling of containment, of believing that there is no way out.
The remainder of the album sees the band take a confident step in the direction of hazy, reverb-laden shoegaze rock. Despite the gloomy atmosphere, we can nip out between showers and bask in the gorgeous, shimmering tones of ‘Sinewy’ and percussion-less title track (which is splendidly reminiscent of Ride’s ‘Today’), as well as have a smile brought to our faces with memories of Adam Franklin’s languid vocal delivery, and Swervedriver’s early frazzle during ‘Charles’.
Simmer sign off with the slowly building, introspective ‘Crease’, and demonstrate a lightness of touch that belies their ‘punk’ self-tagging. From raucous and chaotic origins the band have in a very short space of time developed into a refined, multi-faceted alternative rock band, who should build a decent following on the back of an excellent debut album.