Friday, 18 April 2008

Review: Yves Klein Blue - Draw Attention To Themselves EP

Yves Klein Blue's Draw Attention To Themselves EP has been one of the most anticipated local releases since they signed to Dew Process last year. The four-piece have managed to almost live up to the surrounding hype with a strong first offering that, while faltering at times, shows signs of a real powerhouse of a band in the making.

Yves Klein Blue's debut EP is full of unabashed pop stylings, a fact emphasised by the first minute of opening track 'Blasphemy'. Musically the tracks starts of by utilising the 'world music' rhythm and blues of artists such as Peter Gabriel and Paul Simon (very much like recent critic darlings Vampire Weekend have done). The sound doesn't sit well with the slightly off-kilter vocals of designated frontman Michael Tomlinson, yet at the precise moment that the listener notices the opposing forces at work the distortion kicks in and 'Blasphemy' turns into a blistering garage-pop tune a la The Libertines. From the get go it's obvious how tight Yves Klein Blue are as a band. Tomlinson's and Charles Sale's guitar lines twist around each other without ever clashing, while the backline of bassist Sean Cook and drummer Chris Banham keep things from veering of into chaos.

'Not What I Want' is an upbeat number drawing to mind the songs of early-80s Elvis Costello. Cook's bass keeps the track bouncing around the room, while Sale throws in a pretty decent guitar solo. Its Tomlinson's vocals and lyrics that come to the fore however. While they can teeter on the edge of being overdone from time to time, the lyrics are more often insightful, quick and sharp, ("The institution requires/That every mind can be just what it desires and that/Every mind will desire much the same thing") and are perfectly supplemented by Tomlinson's colourful vocals.

'19' is a slower number, shuffling along with piano and brush snare. Unfortunately the track feels a little overproduced. The song sees the band attempting to pull to many tricks at once and what could have been a excellent Beatlesque pop number, combining upbeat melodies with melancholic lyrics, unfortunately becomes an exercise in mediocrity. Fortunately 'Silence Is Distance' returns the energy to the EP. Another Strokes/Libertines-aping rocker (albeit one that manages to sound quite original), the song is a sees Tomlinson spitting and howling throughout ("If you come any nearer/I'll only be a mirror for your spite") while Sale sprays the song with screeching, distorted riffs.

The second last track is 'Polka', a perfect little pop number which sounds, funnily enough, like a polka. The band has honed the track down to the point where even the most cynical of listeners will feel the urge to dance along. The EP ends with '(a bookend)', which as the title suggests is basically a coda to the EP. The piano and percussion piece is essentially irrelevant, and while such filler could be passed of were this an album, however on an EP, especially one which has already delivered 5 decent songs, it's entirely unnecessary. But don't let that sour note influence you. Yves Klein Blue have pieced together an EP that delivers 5 worthwhile pop gems, most of which are sure to get you jumping around the room when no one is looking.

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