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REVIEWS - SOUNDS

Title:
The Animalhouse EP
Artist(s):
The Animal House
El-Camel's Ratings:

Label:
Boilerhouse/Arista

Reviewer:
sydney cathew

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Oxford music scene graduates Mark Gardener (Ride) and Sam Williams (The Mystics) air the first recordings from their new band. As a thesis, this one is thick with cracked mirror (check the sleeve) reflections on the pseudo dark side of the tune. 'Animal' is artfully electronic: urging, primal - with a thumping back beat that drives on through a punky guitar thrash, all underpinned by a low throbbing bass and breathlessly pert vocals. There are references to the gothic shadows of current media squeeze Death In Vegas although the power elements are far more Afghan Whigs prototype. All in all this makes the track quite a feisty and hairy little beast. Though ultimately it's more Pavlov's dog than startlingly original cool cat in concept.

'Sodium Glow' is alternatively low key; it's understated detachment reminding of previous bleak zone media favourites - Bristol's Portishead. Beth Gibbons atmospheric nightclub trip is briefly recreated - the after dark vocals all quiet phrasing and secretive. 'Essence' completes a mixed trio with a scratchy tech noir intro yielding to a light, unremarkable acoustic commerciality.

They've followed an intelligent course for two years to bring us this debut. Now they need to forget the lecture notes, and the learned sources, and start thinking more for themselves. For sure they definitely style check all the right bases, but for now - despite a certain contrived energy on the first track - they're not distinctive enough to pass out with full honours.

michael white

The Animalhouse: The Animalhouse EP - Boilerhouse/Arista ah 001CD

www.animalhouse.co.uk

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