Monday, August 01, 2016
Album Review :: Asylums - Killer Brain Waves
Killer Brain Waves
July 29 2016 (Cool Thing Records)
Words: Jess Sharrock
The exuberant debut album from Southend's indie-punks Asylums is probably everything you were expecting it might be if you were familiar with their single releases to date; and if you're coming to them for the first time here, it probably won't be your last.
The album definitely starts big with ‘Second Class Sex’, where its powering intro leads into an infectious number that hints of 90s Britrock nostalgia around its edges, followed by previous single ‘I’ve Seen Your Face In A Music Magazine’, which is all manic guitars, fast-paced drums and lively vocals that wraps its melodies around a song of wryly observed 21st century society culture. The mid-tempo ‘Joy In A Small Wage’ brings the sound back down a little; more of a vocal focused track, it nevertheless exudes a wonderful summer festival feel and it definitely makes you want to dance. It is one of the record's most defining tracks: anticipatory dreams of 'making it' while trying to survive on that eponymous 'small wage' while living the everyday 9-to-5 existence.
‘Bad Influence’ (fun fact: it's was written by vocalist Luke Branch about his granddad), ‘Wet Dream Fanzine’ and ‘The Death Of Television’ are all pop rock at it’s finest with riffs galore and lyrically well-executed verses. The somewhat creatively titled ‘Monosyllabic Saliva’ hurtles along an unremitting course of explosive power riffs and scorching lines such as: “Hey moron, commit suicide with your tongue!”
Elsewhere, ‘Necessary Appliances’ and ‘Sunday Commuters’ both show an artful blend of their trademark pop punk style, coupled with anthemic choruses with excitingly raucous riffs. ‘Missing Persons’ is the absolute standout track for me. One of the softer, more restrained songs on the album, and maybe somewhat romantic sounding, but it is full of memorable melodies and spot-on lyrics.
'Killer Brain Waves' feels new and unfamiliar, like a personal sneak peak into their minds. The fact that fans who have been following Asylums since day one will know almost half of the album doesn't take away just how good a debut this is, both musically and lyrically. They have clearly found their own interesting sound, a fusion of genres that is unlike anything else out there right now. Jam-packed with dynamite pop hooks and pop-punk action that is both immediate, yet curiously retro at the same time. It is the kind of first album most new bands hope to produce, though only the minority actually go on to achieve.