This is a review of "Quiet Places" recorded by Samsa. The review was written by Sam Saunders in 2004.
Named after a character in a Kafka story who awakes to find himself transformed into a beetle, Samsa exude that pyrotechnic self doubt that Radiohead have as good as taken as their own. I mention this first to get it out of the way. This is the third Samsa release I have reviewed, and the Thom Yorke echo still rings loud and clear. This is especially true of second string "Keep Me Awake". But I will say no more on the subject.
Where earlier work has been diverse and tentative, this single is sharp, focused and tough minded. No cellos. No ensemble playing. This is a rock single to put alongside work by the likes of British Sea Power and Franz Ferdinand. Opening chords call up Polly Harvey's triumphant playing on "Stories from the City, Stories From the Sea" – no bad thing. To my ears it does more and goes further than several of the recently signed Leeds outfits have done with their current singles. It has a fresh-sounding section with prominent voice and bluesy riffing guitar. It stands up spiky and proud.
The second track is clearly the same band, and doesn’t slouch one single bar. But it isn’t quite as taut and would serve best as a mid-set shift in mood. The vocal track is, in parts, a bit more forced and anguished.
If this is where fast-growing Samsa now stand, then they've got plenty going for them. Seek it out.