Music Reviews

Eagulls Eagulls

(Partisan Records) Rating - 8/10

I don’t know when making brash, ridiculous statements just for the fun of ruffling some feathers stopped being a thing punk bands did sometimes, but I’m sort of glad Eagulls have brought it back. Granted, when the Leeds five-piece posted their now infamous blog post – which called out various aspects of the modern indie scene with the angst and articulation of a middle-schooler – they claim they were just doing it for shits and giggles, and had no idea a hand-scrawled letter wherein they refer to “beach bands sucking each other’s dicks” would garner such immediate attention from various corners of the music press. No doubt the whole matter cast Eagulls as immature brats, which, depending on how you like your punk, could be an insult or a compliment, and the hairy ass the band posted after taking the letter down didn’t seem to help matters. But it’s unfortunate that this is, for many people, the only light in which they’ll see these young punks, as the band’s incredibly balanced, melodic self-titled debut suggests far greater maturity than anything you may find on the band's Blogger page.

Listening to Eagulls, however, you’d have to wonder why exactly these young chaps have so much against their hip brethren. After all, it’s not like anything Eagulls is doing is particularly out of fashion. Through the album’s ten tracks, there doesn’t seem to be a single influence which exists outside of the 70’s and 80’s, and it’s not as if post-punk has fallen out of favor recently (in fact, I’m pretty sure it never will). Bassist Tom Kelly manages his best Peter Hook impression throughout the entire record, and you’d swear you’ve heard the watery guitar melodies in tracks like Tough Luck and Nerve Endings in something The Cure put out decades ago.

But it’s hard to fault Eagulls too much on their debut full-length when they come off so fully formed right from the get-go. Though they make their affinity for hardcore and post punk glaringly visible, the band proves themselves as excellent songwriters every chance they get, with each track on Eagulls – save for the plodding Footsteps – sporting enormous hooks and irresistibly chant-able choruses. This doesn’t mean each track aims to accomplish the same goal – tracks like Yellow Eyes are brooding and teeth bearing, but others, like Possessed, are as full blown and anthemic as possible – but everything is held together with remarkable consistency which – thanks to the band's strong ear for hooks – never gets boring.

But what makes Eagulls’ consistency so remarkable is how they maintain a near perfect symbiosis between catchy post-punk melody and blown-out, hardcore noise. Occasionally, the band sticks in one territory – like with the blown-out punk quickie Fester/Blister or the undeniably pretty Opaque – but generally, Eagulls does a tightrope walk between both sides and doesn’t break a sweat. This largely has to do with the album’s production, as everything is coated in harrowing, lush guitar feedback, and each instrument has that hollow metallic thud often heard on Iceage or Holograms records. But what really solidifies Eagulls as a punk record first and foremost is vocalist George Mitchell, who treats each track – no matter how loud or soft – with his particular howl/yelp hybrid and quick, punchy lyrics that are at their best the simpler and more enthusiastically they are shouted out, especially in the choruses. A few examples: Tough Luck – “Tough Luck / Tough Luck / Tough Luck!”, Amber Veins – “Amber Veins / Amber Veins / Amber Veins!”, Possessed – “I’m Possessed!!!!!”

There’s definitely more than a hint of familiarity to everything in Eagulls’ DNA, but isn’t that aside from the point by now? It’s become such a regular thing over the years for bands to utilize the sounds of post punk, and done in so many ways by this point, that we should be less worried about who’s doing it and rather who’s doing it well. With a perfect combination of loose noise and tight melody, Eagulls’ self-titled debut puts the group on the fast track to be taken seriously, even compared to peers on their third or fourth try. Of course, the chance of another hot-tempered blog post or hairy ass portrait taking a jab at their credibility is always possible in the future, but maybe Eagulls just wants us to think that about them. After all, who’s easier to underestimate than a bunch of snot-nosed punks?