EP review - Garden of Elks, 'Extended Play'
Noise pop/college rock debut from a Glasgow band, starting to grow antlers
Fuzzy, relentless and slathered in Pixies and Sonic Youth influences, 'Extended Play' is a frantic debut affair which announces Garden of Elks as a band with genuine promise. Billing themselves as ‘noise pop’, GOE are worthy of a place alongside PAWS as champions of a new gutsy guitar sound coming out of Glasgow just now.
Lead single ‘Surfer Boy’ is a punchy A to B affair which could knock the wind out of you if it caught you right and establishes the signature sound for GOE (made up of Niall Strachan from Bronto Skylift and Ryan Drever from No Island, with Kirstin Lynn on drums.)
This energy continues through the first half of ‘Contended Contender’, albeit with a more sophisticated approach on guitar. The track breaks stride to offer the EP's first real pause for breath, moving into a sound that affords the vocals a little more space to flourish. This is the first suggestion of a more considered approach from the Glasgow trio, a theme that emerges again later in the record.
Before that though, we have the acoustic driven ‘Lumpy the Javelin Thrower.’ Again there are massive nods to the Pixies here, and the track would feel right at home in the early 90s grunge scene. Where this number stumbles however, is that feels like it either goes on for too long, or is lacking on the dynamics front; the last 45 seconds or so feel like a bit of a graft.
What follows is the biggest indicator that Garden of Elks may be about to venture into a slightly developed and fuller sound. ‘Mountain Dew’ comes across as intricately arranged from the off. There is a genuine harmony between all the elements of this track, which feels just a little bit more grown up. This carries like a song Los Campesinos might churn out if they turned manic depressive overnight and were in the midst of the most god awful hangover. Wiry guitars and a driving bass line are the order of the day, as the Elks start to show off their ever-growing antlers.
Listen to the whole thing yourself at Garden of Elks' Soundcloud.