Bird by Ex PeopleRelease date: May 19, 2017
Label: New Heavy Sounds
Not too long ago the song ‘Without’ was streamed exclusively on Echoes and Dust, now Ex people release their debut album Bird on the carefully selective New Heavy Sounds label, which boasts Black Moth, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Limb, and others on its roster. All bands united by their idiosyncratic and varying brands of all things heavy, but also share a mindful ear on the right side of melody and groove.
In the recent Echoes and Dust interview the band revealed they wanted to make an album which is, “simple and punchy”. To illustrate the point the album kicks off with ‘Not A Drill’, with a melodic low strung riff before it picks up momentum and develops into a subtle tuneful chorus, supplemented by a we have arrived squawking guitar solo by Calum Gunn.
Deeply doomy bass and whooshing sounding effects open second track ‘Without’ before it lurches into a sludgy/grunge swagger reminiscent of grunge heavyweights Tad. Laura’s vocals wail is both haunting and full of impending doom so juxtaposes sublimely with the dense, but punchy production. Produced by Wayne Reynolds (Vodun, USA Nails, Death Pedals, Casual Nun) he captures a brooding heaviness throughout while Laura’s vocals are perfectly given space to soar above the band’s dense heaviosity.
‘Over’ picks up the tempo with another superb low end riffage. And when you start thinking can they keep this great start going ‘Dread’ takes the level even further up a notch. It’s just as heavy, but Laura’s contrasting wail swoons with further foreboding holler and maybe just wins, by a photo finish, the catchiest tune prize. The fuzz just keeps on ringing throughout the album as the eerie ‘The Host’ contains an early Smashing Pumpkins riff styled aura, while another highlight is the self-contained, apprehensive toned ‘You Creep’.
The more I listen fans of Tad should delight at the head nearly detaching from your neck opening blast of ‘Complainer’. While they were not listed to be an influence by the band from their Echoes interview, those which do make the shortlist are good indicators of their sound; The Melvins, Harvey Milk, Smashing Pumpkins, Electric Wizard, and the progressive Bardo Pond. Plus, include the afore-mentioned New Heavy Sounds label mates and it all amounts to a band successfully achieving a sound with enough nuances to stand proudly side by side.
If there is one flaw in this impressive collection, then it is ‘Crested’, which fails to ignite and be the epic album closer it may be hoping to be. It still isn’t quite relegated to a filler category number, but the high standards which precedes it makes it a slight dip to finish proceedings. What it does do though is end the album on an even higher level of heavy intensity.
This quartet from London prove to be a perfect fit for the label. They have successfully carved out their own sludgy, grungy, fuzzy blend which somehow snugly fits comfortably within the ranks and sound of their label colleagues. Ex People’s intentions are indeed accomplished. Bird is an impressive debut; a heavy, fuzzy drenched, menacing, and hooky pleasure.