By Club Smith
'The Loss' EP from Leeds-based Club Smith, is an enviable debut release, recalling the electro-indie-with-anthemic choruses of 'Hot Fuss' era The Killers, but with a subtle touch of darkness here and there, adding additional depth to the Club Smith experience.
Despite the EP's downhearted moniker, and the equally downhearted title of the opening track, 'Lament' turns out to be a shot of life-affirming indie-rock adrenaline, buoyed by plenty of fizzing synths.
The jittery, staccato build-up of the verses will have you edging anxiously forward in your seat, in anticipation of the chorus: and it doesn't disappoint. It's a sunshine-drenched swirl of "whoooa-ooooooh" backing vocals; bubbling synth-work and spring-heeled drumbeats. It's so immediate and enjoyable, that there's actually a danger of it being too immediate - becoming just another throwaway, pop-infused tune. However, Club Smith seem aware that sugar-rush songs rarely make people's 'Ten Songs That Changed My Life' lists, and frontman Sam lays an impassioned and emotive main vocal over that quick and easy, pop backing track. 'Lament' is chewy-centred indie-pop with a touch of anthemic-indie about it, which just may see the listener forming a longer-lasting relationship with it. Club Smith also give us an end-section we can really sink our teeth into: a laboured march, overlaid with vocals that have an intriguing touch of a religious litany to them. 'Lament' is fun, catchy alt-pop, with some real weight behind it.
Second track, 'Courtyard' conforms to the same formula. The lyrics aim to get you holding your pint aloft and hollering along, while the music just wants to make you smile. However, Club Smith stick a little too closely to the formula laid down in 'Lament,' with an end-section of chanted vocals, trimmed in reverential, choir-like echoes that feels like a very faithful retreading of familiar ground.
Elsewhere, Club Smith do manage to keep 'Courtyard' distinct from 'Lament,' with the occasional touch of darkness in the form of limping drumbeats and drawn-out, organ-esque synths. This willingness to dip a toe into darker waters suits Club Smith well, and is what makes EP highlight 'No Friend Of Mine' such a stroke of genius. The combination of a swarm of voices yammering hypnotically away in the background and a military drum line, twist 'No Friend Of Mine' from pop, to quirky and black-hearted alt-pop. There is one minor flaw, which is a tendency to stumble upon a great vocal hook, and then repeat it until it's completely lost its power. 'No Friend Of Mine' would have benefited from one additional idea, to colour in the gaps currently occupied by those heavily-repeated vocals.
'Connected' is the song that most strongly recalls 'Hot Fuss.' The opening in particular, is reminiscent of The Killers' 'Glamorous Indie Rock and Roll.' The slick drum-work of the verses leads into choruses that deliver everything you could possibly want from an indie song: twitchy vocals that'll have you itching to holler along, set against a snappy electro-indie beat, with a touch of choir-like vocals here and there ensuring this song never feels like vapid entertainment. Nit-pickers may point towards a blast of synths during the bridge section, which could have been better worked into the main body of the song but, once again, producing near-perfect indie-pop seems to be second nature to this band.
'The Loss' is a debut release to put others to shame, serving up four tracks that occupy the potentially lucrative space between indie, pop and electro. Even better, Club Smith aren't afraid of nudging their music towards subtly darker territory. Every song on here, is primed and ready to rock the dancefloor at your local indie clubnight.