This three track EP from Midland's four-piece, Rhesus kicks off in truly uplifting fashion, with feel good anthem 'So Alone.' Blending melodic, easy-on-the-ear indie-rock with sugared lyrics and pop-music vocals, 'So Alone' manages to be thoroughly pleasant, without being bland.
Rhesus seem to be well aware of the danger of being too easy on the ear, and strive to keep things interesting on this track. They employ scratchy, fluttery chords on those syrup-smooth verses, which prevent it from passing by in a sugary blur. They also treat us to a grin-inducing pre-chorus build-up of melodic riffs and irresistibly bouncy drumbeats. But, it's the chorus where this charismatic song excels, with fuzzy-edged riffs providing a less honeyed backdrop to the bright and breezy male/female vocals, which prevents Rhesus from becoming annoyingly chirpy.
Second track, 'Big Me' goes for a fuzzier sound, most notably on the verses, with their super-slick underlying beat of blurry-edged riffs. However, beyond the toe-tapping buzz of the verses, the choruses fall a little flat, as the fuzzy riffs that sounded so attention-grabbing at the forefront of the song, begin to sound like static once they're relegated to the background.
However, 'Big Me' does boast some neat vocal work on the part of frontman Richard Barrington-Hill, as he patters out short, punchy vocals on the verses and more urgent vocals for the typically poppy chorus. Although 'Big Me' may not be pushing boundaries in terms of lyrical content, those decidedly average lyrics are delivered in such a shrewd fashion, that the lack of inspiration doesn't matter, and you'll be singing merrily along anyway.
Title tack 'Narcolepsy Baby' has a funkier, stop-start groove that doesn't quite have the same charisma as the other two tracks, and is also a little too uninventive to be the awkward-indie anthem it seems to be aspiring to be.
Thankfully though, Rhesus don't rely solely on prominent drumbeats and angular chords to fix 'Narcolepsy Baby' in our collective heads. This song also delivers a barrage of the pop hooks Rhesus do so well, as frequent vocal emphasises combine with the stop-start rhythms to create some truly irresistible vocal hooks.
Rhesus sign off with a 'hidden' instrumental track of glacial synths and a very slick, electro backing beat that gradually builds into a shivering keyboard refrain, edged in some vaguely unnerving distortion. While it's catchy enough, it's an odd inclusion, and pretty much anyone could create something similar, with an electronic keyboard at their disposal.
Rhesus are hardly pushing new ground with this three-track effort but, unnecessary 'hidden' track aside, 'Narcolepsy Baby' is the perfect record if you're after a dose of upbeat indie-pop that won't leave you cringing.