By The Beat Marshals
'Fall From Grace,' the debut EP from Leeds' The Beat Marshals, is a mixed effort that, thankfully, gets its unique blend of lo-fi, rock and electronica spot-on during the final song.
EP-opener 'Fall From Grace' contrasts fuzzy vocals against tinny guitar lines that scratch around erratically, before trailing off in a flat, buzzy bass pulse. It's a catchy piece of guitar work, and the vocals straddle that intriguing middle ground between being dreamy and vague, and possessing a lurking darkness. As the song progresses, the vocals thicken into a fug of scuzzed-up sound, and the scratchy riffs soften into a rounder, more expansive sweep of guitars. 'Fall From Grace' is a solid start to this three track EP, but it lacks a definite identity. Its blurry vocals, ringing guitar lines and sinister undertones, make for a slightly trippy, slightly dark, sometimes classy indie-rock experience, that might just leave the listener more confused than enthralled.
'Symbiosis' is a little more sure of itself. The verses have a funky groove of shuffling drumbeats and sparse, twitching chords, with an electronic pulse that trills through the slick, indie-rock beats, giving 'Symbiosis' a trendily electro-indie slant. Meanwhile, the choruses have a rougher, more rock-orientated sound, with under-produced guitars that grate and buzz beneath a fug of reverb and distortion. These scuzzy choruses, are where The Beat Marshals will first pique your interest.
Last track and EP highlight 'Best Before' is the song where The Beat Marshals finally embrace their scuzzed-up leanings, and get the balance exactly right between the different elements of their sound. The verses are ingeniously put-together, with perfectly-placed bursts of lo-fi guitars peppering frontman Dan's hazy vocals. As the hissing and crackling guitars melt away, the listener is left with an hypnotic combination of wafting vocals and plodding drumbeats. Mixed in with this, are lo-fi guitars layered with 'slipping-disco' sound effects and beeping synths. It may be pretty cheesy, but that lo-fi fuzz, topped with razor-sharp electro hooks, proves to be irresistible.
The Beat Marshal's debut EP won't capture your full attention until the groove-infused scuzzy rock of 'Best Before.' The other two songs have their moments, as The Beat Marshals dabble with the crackling guitars that make 'Best Before' such a strong song, but it's not until track three that it all comes together for the Leeds-based quartet. Hopefully, 'Best Before' isn't a fluke and The Beat Marshals will come up with more songs of this calibre, in the near future.