In black and white, a severely silhouetted portrait is emblazoned on this EP cover, surrounded by his eerily glowing smoke. So as far as first impressions go this is a very nice taster of what is to sonically unfold, – an auditory picture of jaded beauty, in sfumato.
‘So this is it? I gave my encore, relived my last pathetic lie…’ is a line that lingers with me after listening to this debut EP from The Outer Seasons. Watery, but perfectly smooth baritone vocals tell of the futility of what we call performance, the accepted falsehood, the misnomer of the pantomime. All things illustrated recurrently, yet there’s something about the tight, sinewy way that these reflections are delivered by this quintet that really makes me want to see them live very soon. The hooks are concise, and the vocals are a great conveyer of sentiment without any irritating, supercilious fireworks. As self described: “It’s pop played heavier, rock and roll yet a little bit not.” I relish this as it’s definitely not glib hubris, but actual reality.
The first track ‘Nicotine’ opens the proceedings with a clanking, moody burst of self admittance. Blood-filled gushings to the subject of the singer’s desires craved for so much they are his ‘branded disease’, what a lovely lyrical lick! Very much the ‘Steamy Windows’ of the EP, and harks to something Tony Joe White may have penned in a particularly saucy, yet sad mood.
The ensuing number ‘Out of Season’ has more of a jangle. Not hosepipe-sprayed-crowd-bouncing-to-Britpop-in-1998 jangle, somewhat more Autumnal. Again speaking of the temporary nature of things, the parasitic nature of commerciality, ‘give me your price, sell me that voice!’ and the craving of home. The tone of the EP is on the rise, as things start to pick up pace.
A silver lining streaks thine ears with ‘The Show’, the track that contains my favourite line. Summer has definitely come about, but not without the odd squall here and there to remind us that the ground on which we tread is still soft and damp. Consistency of style, has been meted out by an elevation in tone somewhat, and I appreciate this change.
Lastly, is the kick- punctuated plod that opens ‘One of the Same’. It seems to encapsulate all of the elements that the antecedent tracks sought to gesture. ‘Well come down to my level and see through my eyes,’ ‘Well yesterday is gone, today will be forgotten’, again speak of an existential leaning that has trickled down through this EP, framed beautifully by some arresting motions on lead guitar, and is the track in which the singer’s vocal ingredients really shine.
The last line is a wonderfully emotional moment, delivered largely a cappella. A splintery crackle starts to appear in the voice, and the vibrato that wobbles in, impresses upon the listener a rawness that doesn’t feel forced or acted. The betrayal in this story is very real and haunts the today, despite it being forgotten. Yet I’m not so sure about that.
All in all, I can only say that I really drank in this EP, and I only wish I could perhaps express my glee in listening to it, in perhaps more theoretical terms, or lace this review in smartass statements like I have to piss out battery acid. Gratefully imbibed, because I wish to see them live, and as my heart manoeuvres with them through their set, hopefully have a deeper blast of understanding as to what makes this quintet tick.
Next time, spoil me more, and let that voice have more moments of unhinged, as well as the perfectly functional, communicative spinner of yarn, mood and message, – in itself an invaluable tool.