Eagulls, Live at Electrowerkz, March 5th
Out of Leeds comes five-piece Eagulls, with a striking, raw sound characterised by postpunk riffs and loud drums, directly reminiscent of the late seventies and eighties. After appearing on David Letterman’s Late Show and having sparked a modest amount of social media controversy, Eagulls return to London to play a sold out show in Islington venue Electrowerkz, days after the release of their debut album.
A swift tuning, no hesitation, no presentation, no introduction: the band leap head-on into Nerve Endings, one of their most-loved singles, which recently won the NME Best Video Prize. Right from the start, the song seems to hit a raw nerve, with an energy built upon distorted guitars and throttling drums, to stress an underlying theme: anxiety. And already half-empty cans of beer are being thrown across the crowd.
Lead singer George Mitchell takes a swig from a bottle of wine, he’s dressed rather smartly, well-groomed, tidy hair. The band’s appearance is unpretentious – their songs too could be described as such, with no particular desire to break ground or impress an audience with new, edgy sounds. Uninterested in following a particular trend, or in breaking away from them, Eagulls’s music is triggered by a certain urgency. Their raw – yet occasionally polished – sound testifies a desire to express that all-too-familiar disillusionment and discontent of twenty-somethings which fits nicely in this day and age. It is here that I would like to point out the rather suiting photograph of a burnt car in front of a shabby council estate, which serves as the cover for the band’s self-titled debut album, released only a few days ago.
Moulting, which follows a lively applause, is one of their more melodic tracks, though the emphasis is never really on the vocals, but rather, on the effect of the instruments as a whole. When live, it’s hard to make out any of the words because of the sheer, beautiful intensity of the sound – but under each blaring distortion lie significant lyrics which deal with quite serious themes. Bleak as they may be, most of their songs are based on the band members’ past experiences, such as growing up around drug-addict neighbours. Another of their strongest songs, Tough Luck, is a reflection on the effects of Thalidomide. Soulless Youth, a title which pretty much sums up the band’s view on the world, presents a compelling building up of drums and guitars which then explodes into the sound of years upon years of frustration. If their vibrant music is somewhat unforgiving, then equally, their lyrics are brutally honest.
Their show tonight lasts little over half an hour – short and straight to the point, in accordance with punk tradition. Eagulls are similar to many bands out there, past and present, and though they might not be introducing any new, distinctive elements, it can only be a good thing if many of their songs bring to mind Joy Division bass lines and other trademarks tied to those years. After all, it cannot be denied that this is what people want, as attested by the fully-packed venue.
Eagulls’s tour continues, visit their website for dates.