By O Fracas
One thing I can never fathom about O Fracas is whether they're creative geniuses, or really rubbish.
See, sometimes, all I can infer from the established Leeds four-piece's music is that they've had a load of particularly good ideas, but then decided to sack off rehearsal in favour of taking loads of drugs and piecing the sections together in a manner that seemed perfectly rational at the time.
And yet, at other times, I'll find myself nodding my head, singing along, grooving to the unusual rhythms and generally quite enjoying the vibe. This release, the Factfinding EP, manages to achieve both of the above effects within the same listen.
It's simultaneously the most abstract and most commercial record the boys have released. 'And So A Scratch Runs Down The Wall' has a blistering pop melody, something that would sit right at home in one of Badly Drawn Boy's better compositions, particularly given the acoustic guitar backing. But then the drums are doing something weird, and it's all choppy, and I find myself listening to it, writing this review, thinking 'what the hell is this all about?' yet still bopping along. Its style contrasts nicely with both opener 'Factfinding' and the following 'Moth to a Flame', which present a more 'traditional' O Fracas style, but still with something of a new twist. The former jumps gorgeously between a seductively dirty guitar riff and some intriguing, laid back jazz breakdowns, but it loses something in production, seemingly aiming for a middle ground and not quite hitting either of them well enough.
Drawing conclusions is difficult. It's probably the most worthwhile material O Fracas have produced since the excellent 'Zeroes and Ones / What Jim Hears' single two and a half years ago, but it still fails to capture the urgency, the power and - alas - the quality of that record. O Fracas seem back on their way to form, but they need to be careful not to lose themselves in their own music too much.
Oh, and I was joking about the drugs thing, by the way. They wear knitted jumpers, for goodness' sake, they can't be bad lads...