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The opening cacophony of 'Nerve Endings' gives an early insight into what you can expect from the debut album by Eagulls - the five-piece Leeds outfit whose reputation rather precedes them. It's pleasing that we've finally got to album stage with this band after the chaos of their career to date, with police raids and open letters to 'beach bands sucking each others dicks' and the like. Time to back up the verbals, lads.
Once the initial racket is out of the way, 'Nerve Endings' strides into post-punk territory as though the past couple of decades never happened. George Mitchell yelps his way across the track in a startling homage to Jon King of Gang of Four, while the rest of the band plough into their instruments like demented Danish punks Iceage.
Indeed Iceage are the band that spring most frequently to mind when listening to Eagulls' debut, though more specifically the Danes' tight first album than their shambolic second. Thankfully Eagulls have more mind for a tune and tracks such as 'Tough Luck' and 'Possessed' rely more heavily on the melody than the ranting and raving of Iceage, though the comparison is too hard to avoid elsewhere, such as in the mostly pointless 'Fester Blister'. The band performed 'Possessed' on the David Letterman show a couple of weeks ago. How brilliantly bizarre.
More and more on repeated listens it occurs that this band genuinely do seem to give a shit more than most, about their music and the subject matter. I grant you, I can't work out what the bloody hell he's on about half the time but there's some kind of of authenticity dripping from every verbal bark and echoey guitar jangle, every driving bassline and intelligent whack of the drums. Henry Ruddel's drums are noticeably crucial to the record, forcing 'Hollow Visions' and 'Yellow Eyes' towards greatness without dominating either track.
It takes a band of supreme confidence to end their debut album with their finest track. 'Soulless Youth' is an exceptional piece of music, building to an early crescendo and never once letting up across five minutes of brutal post punk. Every element works, and I have no hesitation in saying this is one of the best album tracks I have heard in a year or more.
The burnt-out car on a British housing estate on the front cover of the record is an indication that Eagulls want to be taken as genuine - a band of the people if you like. On this brilliant evidence they ought to be the band of a bloody damn sight more people than they've so far managed to convince.