It is probably no surprise that there is a healthy essence of Kurt Cobain and co to the Freaks Like Me sound, considering its members also make up the world’s No.1 Nirvana tribute band Nervana, but that is only part of what is a rather compelling and enjoyable proposition on offer in the trio’s debut release. The Philosophies For The Modern Ant EP is a contagious and rigorously captivating encounter which has body and imagination leaping in tandem with its energetic and invigorating enterprise. As mentioned there is no escaping the rich familiarity of the band’s main inspiration across the songs but with its grunge sounds merged with punk ferocity and melodic rock tenacity, what emerges is an admittedly less than original but easily more than richly satisfying incitement. Think Nirvana meets Sick Puppies in the embrace of early Bush and you get a great hint of what is on offer.
Consisting of vocalist/guitarist Jon O’Connor, bassist Dave Eve, and drummer/backing vocalist Steve Kilroy, Freaks Like Me emerged when the threesome decided it was time to explore and offer something different and fresh from their highly successful and acclaimed Nervana presence which has been going since 2009. The seeds of their union go back much further though, Eve and Kilroy meeting in the early 2000s in London while recording an EP with Gods Little Joke. Playing together in Ireland in 2007, the pair met O’Connor in Dublin after a show, reconnecting with him later when looking for a vocalist for their new project. The rest is history, with a new turn and direction in its narrative coming with Freaks Like Me.
Recorded in London, Boston and Holland, Philosophies For The Modern Ant, on the back of successful shows in Europe and the US, instantly has ears and attention gripped as opener Better Off Blind sets things off. Hefty riffs and similarly intensive grooves encase ears initially before the song relaxes into a more familiar grunge bred tempting. Melodies and a snarl equipped bassline court the slightly grizzled tones of Jon O’Connor, his voice sharing the raw essence of again Cobain and similarly Gavin Rossdale, it all creating a restrained but open drama to the song. It is fair to say that the EP starts with a recognisable and unsurprising offering but equally a captivating one which like the warm up act to the main show, gets anticipation and appetite in the mood.
All In A Lie is a different beast of a proposition, its instant almost predatory splatter of riffs and sonic discord within a carnivorous assault of bass led rhythms, immediately irresistible. It is a riveting and thrilling entrance loaded with rugged hooks and ravenous grooves. Submission to its raw and imposing suggestiveness is swift, especially with the effect drizzled vocals which are soon riding the tempestuous and aggressive onslaught. Bearing down on the senses with seemingly increasing creative turmoil, urgency, and seduction, the intoxicating tempest is quite outstanding, sparking as its successor at times thoughts of UK based band Feud along the way.
If the bass exploits of Eve have already seduced the passions across the first two tracks, he steals them outright within Cynical. A dirty repetitious temptation from his manipulation of strings is simply irresistible as it provides the start and spine to the raucous and fiery encounter. It is an old school punk lure in many ways, a resonating simplicity which steers song and its creativity to striking endeavours. It again has many recognisable twists and aspects to its adventure but this time of a more post punk seeded comparison a la Gang of Four.
Both Down and Idol Fall keep EP and pleasure blazing, the first with virulently infectious expulsions masked as choruses. As in the previous song there are glimpses of a post punk flavouring, hints of Flesh For Lulu spicing the melodic radiance spilling from the heart of the otherwise thickly Nirvana-esque swamp of abrasive rock ‘n’ roll. The second of the two is again drenched in the flavours of the band’s other project, but it is spicery twisted and woven into fresh and inventive imagination which easily enthrals thoughts and ears, especially in its unexpected and transfixing psyche rock detour.
Closing song Poppies and Rain provides an absorbing croon to end on, but a shadow wrapped one with portentous rhythms and haunting sonic suggestiveness crowding its melodic and melancholic elegance. The song is a bewitching finale to an excellent debut from Freaks Like Me. Certainly there is little startling new about Philosophies For The Modern Ant but it is potently fresh and stirringly invigorating, and most of all thoroughly enjoyable. What more could anyone want?
Philosophies For The Modern Ant is available from April 7th via Pavement Entertainment through most online stores.
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