Without a doubt one of the most exciting music scenes to rise to prominence in 2011 has been the new wave of acts coming out of Oxford, many of which go under the banner of the ‘Blessing Force’ collective. 2011 has seen many of the collective’s bands produce a broad range of very diverse and interesting musical output. Chad Valley covered Balearic dance influences with panache, whereas Fixers touched on everything from the psychedelic to house and disco on their gloriously ludicrous 'Swimmhaus Johannesburg' single.
So what will Trophy Wife, touted by many as new hopes for indie-disco, conjure up on this, their debut EP titled Bruxism. For those who have heard previous singles ‘Microlite’ and ‘The Quiet Earth’, a lot of the chirpy office disco twanging has been removed. That’s not to say it’s entirely absent, opener ‘Canopy Shade’ builds on the previous two singles, but with added layers of buzzing synth and far higher production. All the little rhythms bounce off of each other delightfully, and would no doubt be right at home in Trophy Wife’s rather energetic live shows.
The energy then peters out a bit for title track ‘Bruxism’. It’s a much more romantically themed song, with singer Jody Prewett confessing "All that I want is to dream again, I can’t sleep when you're not here, next to me." The song is it at it’s most interesting towards the midpoint, where it strips itself back, using a change of pace to keep the listener concerned regarding the song’s romantic plight.
Elsewhere on the EP, ‘Sleepwalks’ is another disco-tinged number, talking of “Waking up from lunar sleepwalks." It’s perfectly adequate, but doesn’t really stand out against Trophy Wife’s more lively moments. It feels slightly restrained musically, and could do with really showing off more exuberance along the same lines of Friendly Fires or early Foals. ‘Seven Waves’ meanwhile is a much more bare song, focusing on soft vocals and harmonies and creating a more spacious soundscape. Although spruced up with some distant squealing guitar and pleasant piano lines, It’s not particularly remarkable, and acts as a sort of mid-record intermission.
Bruxism is then capped off with the Yannis Philippakis produced ‘Wolf’. It’s predictably epic and the one time where Trophy Wife fully pull off the switch in focus from lively to sombre. ‘Wolf’ is dark and surging, as Jody chimes "Now I know my unholy road" it’s clear to see the influences from Foals’ Total Life Forever, not that anyone should be complaining about that.
All in all, Trophy Wife have shown progress as a band with a varied but not vital EP. Yes it’s not quite as bonkers as Fixers, as danceable as Chad Valley or as epic as Pet Moon, but it’s definitely an indication of the good work Blessing Force and Trophy Wife are bringing out now, and hopefully will be built on in the future.