By Last Temple Orchestra
The debut EP from Leeds' Last Temple Orchestra begins in promising fashion, with the excellent 'Inside.' Its spring-heeled drums are tempered by echoey chords, giving it an interestingly ethereal edge. The sparsely-addictive verses give way to soaring choruses that are packed with melodic guitars and twinkling piano notes. The strident vocals cut through the lush musical landscape and give it an urgent edge.
On the downside, the vocals are occasionally too piercing, in particular the pre-chorus yelp of "don't leave me here, me here," and the lyrics are often bulked up by empty "la-di-da-da" fluff.
At over five minutes long, 'Inside' definitely loses its way towards the end, with dark riffs and clunky piano transforming it into something completely different from the melodic, meandering indie ballad it began life as. However, as an opening track, 'Inside' is accomplished, and will make the listener wonder what else Last Temple Orchestra have to offer.
'I Would Die For You' is a more awkward take on their sound, with spluttered verses and a chorus of painfully slow vocals dolled out over harmonious backing vocals. It's surprising just how much the latter grows on you.
'Two Lovers' follows the by now recognisable Last Temple Orchestra formula of indie verses and smooth, pop-infused choruses. However, post-bridge section, 'I Would Die...' puts a darker twist on Last Temple Orchestra. The urgent vocals and squealing riffs make for a sombrely atmospheric, alt-rock sound. It's good, but you can't help feeling that 'Two Lovers' ends up in a vastly different place to where it started.
Last Temple Orchestra clearly have a darker instinct they're itching to indulge, and when they do, with the twisted alt-rock of 'Kill Celebrity Kill,' it makes for invigorating listening.
'Kill Celebrity Kill' is all crunchy backbeats and black-hearted riffs, with the frontman's spluttered vocals ricocheting off the song's gang backing vocals in a way that's equal parts ugly and addictive. The verses of unusually springy riffs are, thankfully, as hook-packed as the choruses.
'Kill Celebrity Kill' is a surprisingly heavy, metal-tinged slice of unpleasantness that's bursting with unique hooks. It's enough to make you wish Last Temple Orchestra would abandon their indie-by-numbers leanings, and just concentrate on heavy music.
After the ugliness of 'Kill Celebrity Kill' we get the six minutes of slow-burning, indie-indulgence that is 'The Midnight It Blinds.' Divided into three sections, it opens with plodding drums and the occasional atmospheric synth, and only slightly picks up the pace on the chorus.
'The Midnight It Blinds' completely changes track for its second instalment, with a punchy beat and rattling acoustic strains that may be more lively, but are just too jarring after three minutes of low-key meandering.
Last Temple Orchestra attempt to tie parts one and two together with a pulsing chord plucked over and over again. This may carry part one's steady pace over into part two, but it also gets annoying pretty quickly.
The final section goes a long way towards redeeming what's in danger of becoming a pointless exercise in self-indulgence. Last Temple Orchestra take the first part of the song and up the urgency, building to an impressive finale. This is the exact same trick System of a Down pulled with Soldier Side Intro/Solider Side on their Mesmerise/Hypnotise double-header.
The effect is exactly the same, as 'The Midnight It Blinds' gains a more dynamic feel, as there's definite from the doomy plod of the song's opening notes, to the urgent appeal of its ending ones.
Without this sense of movement, there would have been little to recommend 'The Midnight It Blinds.' However, it's worth a listen, if only to experience the moment that souped-up opening/end-section kicks in. This isn't one you'll be itching to put on repeat, but it's an interesting listen nonetheless.
Last Temple Orchestra's debut EP features two songs that are definitely worth tracking down - 'Inside' and 'Kill Celebrity Kill.' The rest of the songs are decent, but far from life changing, making this an EP that's consistently good, and occasionally brilliant. Hopefully, Last Temple Orchestra will be able to put out more songs good enough to rival 'Inside' and 'Kill Celebrity Kill' in the future.