Hear The Track HereRegular readers may remember me bumping into this Northern English four piece band when I reviewed their eloquently titled Them That Help Themself, Do Themself More Good (February 2010), another EP release as it happens. So obviously EPs are obviously in their blood and that's no bad thing because at least it gives the listener a much more rounded view of what the band are about. I wasn't exactly overwhelmed by the actual production of the three songs on that EP but I was most pleasantly surprised at the bands sound, songwriting and drive. Right on the very edge between punky and ramshackle, it took a while to get to me but eventually I got it - and I'm English and that definitely helps because of their sound and style. One of the first things to say about Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong EP is that all three tracks were produced professionally this time - and by Steve Whitfield, no less.
Yeah, that'll up the game.
The difference in sound quality, of course, greatly evident, as you would expect but has it - I wondered - changed the nature of the band playing it? Believe me, that happens more than you might think, especially if you bring in a REAL producer/engineer rather than your mate who just thinks he is a producer. So Steve Whitfield's dabs are all over the production and mix but he's still managed to capture the energy and style of the band I remember. The title track, which starts the EP off, is agreeably bouncy and given the right sort of pop approach could do very well as far as RW radio play went. I don't know whether its Whitfield's influence or intentional but the material is less punky and more reminiscent of The Cure in their introspective days (Ed: When were they anything but...?) I am not meaning that this is a bad thing, in fact I like this EP a lot, but there is no denying the feel and style.
Underneath, of course, it's exactly The Ran-Tan Waltz that I cottoned onto at the beginning of the year and this EP just shows off - even more clearly and cleanly - that they are adventurous songwriters and musicians. Adventurous could mean many things, some of them usually painful but not in this case. One of the things I liked about the first EP was the band's willingness to do something that sounded like it shouldn't work, but obviously does. That little talent has been given lots of subtlety on this EP leading - I think - to some really clever moments. Obviously head and shoulders above the first EP, but the content is still quality - even if it takes a bit of work on your part.
Excellent indie MUST HAVE.