by Ben Adsett
As one of the hype bands of twenty seventeen the pressure is on for Tigercub’s latest release. This pressure is simply pushed to one side during the warming fuzz that introduces the EP opener, ‘Divided States of Us’. As the fuzz develops into vocal there is a Soulwax feel to the lo-fi feel in the vocal production and then a gentle guitar squeal lets the bassline kick its way into your ears.
With an opening twenty seconds full of surprises, this EP is off to a storming start; the opener develops into a hybrid of dance rock and dark 80’s electro. The primary and secondary hooks are instant ear worms but underneath there is something much darker.
This darkness is embraced as ‘Into the Ashes’ takes over from the opener (faultlessly I must add), and there is a development from an electronic to a straight up rock sound. The opening is reminiscent of Rated R era Queens of the Stone Age, sparse drums lead into a haunting guitar line and an emotive vocal before the curve-ball kicks in another absolutely storming chorus. Within all the darkness there is still something tap a toe to; the guitar break is expertly timed and creates a second level of atmosphere which is broken by a backing vocal which guides into and out of the chorus. As the emotion increases the double vocal emphasises the struggle in the lyrics before returning to sparse lonely vocals and ending abruptly.
This abrupt ending allows ‘It’s Only Love’ to take full focus with vocals once more backed with a subtle soundscape. The vocal here is so clean against a glitchy backing, leading you into a sense of security, before the chorus arrives transporting everything to another dark pop hook. Again, the musical development is key as walls of sound are developed and slowly taken down to be rebuilt with a subtle change only for the process to be repeated. The vocal remains pure throughout as the backing takes on layer upon layer of feedback and tropical fuzz. There is a moment that everything is wiped out by a crushing angular bassline, before the penultimate turn which leads to a vocal section which would have been at home in the 90’s (think thoughtful indie, a la The Divine Comedy). In the final twist the chorus returns in the gentlest fashion imaginable before being put to the sword in the shape of a final piece of fuzzy guitar.
The EP closes with ‘Faking Laughter’ and sees a return to that QOTSA style start. However, as the previous tracks have shown; it’s not worth getting comfortable as everything is going to change shortly. That is exactly what happens, within seconds, almost all at once, vocals are stuck between a parallel guitar/bass rumble before moving towards another wonderfully catchy guitar/vocal hook. Once more there are surprises in store with a soaring guitar line creating a gloss on top of the vocal and bass that ties sections together. As this EP slips closer to what promises to be a dramatic ending the track just finishes. The clever thing about this ending is you really want to hear more and if you can leave an audience wanting more you have nailed the EP writing process.
This is a release which is both consistent and dramatically different within each and every track but somehow fits together perfectly. The sense of longing as the final track abruptly stops is as clever as it is manipulative and proves just how good the song writing here is.
Evolve or Die is out on September 29th via Alcopop! Records.