Of late, Southend-on-Sea, Essex is home of a growing list of musicians and bands including The Horrors, Busted(ahem), Sonny Green & Nothing but Thieves. This burgeoning seaside town has now spawned yet another noteworthy act in the form of Asylums. They have recently supported both Ash and Killing Joke on tour and having been lucky enough to catch them live last year supporting another act (no names mentioned) whom they totally eclipsed, I have been watching the quartet with interest and they have borne some brilliant musical fruit in the last year. Now capping this off with their début album, Killer Brain Waves out on 29th July which is killer indeed!
The band consists of Luke Branch (vocals and guitar), Jazz Miell (guitar), Michael Webster (bass) and Henry Tyler (drums) and together they produce the most individual guitar rock sound I’ve had the pleasure of listening to in years. It’s a collection of high energy guitar and drums, with lyrical witticisms that are a no-holds barred social documentary for the millennial generation. They kind of remind me of Blur who hit the scene from the same county and with the same level of enthusiasm and lyricism in the 90’s. Their style is fuzzed up, melodic and chart friendly, but left of the mainstream much like many of the great pop-punk bands from the late 90’s and early noughties. There are many elements of their tracks that feel familiar and make me feel nostalgic for the likes of Blink-182, Sum 41 and even Bowling for Soup, yet their tongue-in-cheek style is underpinned by a more serious edge. For example, the lyrics are often about serious social issues rather than being puerile or political and there’s even a bass line lodged in there somewhere that reminded me of The Cure…
The album is so fast paced that aside the choruses, it takes a few listens to pick out the lyrics, but as many of their song titles suggest, there’s some real gems in there when you get to grips with the verses. Taking the example of The Death Of Television, opening with a sound-bite and a cow bell in their typical fast pace has a chanted verse about the saturation of information on the internet “Question what you see not what you feel (turn off the television) / They’ll cut of my head for what I steal (I found it on the internet)”. It’s the shortest but most ferocious track on the album with the only notable exception of closer Slacker Shopper which is delivered with equal ferocity. The chorus of opener Second Class Sex Reject a Second Class Sex also tackles a poignant issue in modern culture (one to deep to discuss in my review but you get the point).There are other, poignant observations at todays society throughout but again, I won’t dwell on them here, you should have a listen for yourselves while I gleefully sing and dance along to the album like a total idiot!
Overall the album is the better part of 40 minutes of blistering sub-pop-punk that deserves your full attention and it suffices to say that I enjoyed this a lot, so much that I, uncharacteristically for a début album, pre-ordered the vinyl. Killer Brain Waves is therefore quite deserving then of my first ever full marks rating – 10/10. Keep up the good work gents and I look forward to catching Asylums live again soon.