“Estrons” is a Welsh word that roughly translates as “misfits” or “outsiders”, and the moniker chosen by a Welsh outfit who became hotly-tipped following three years of superb EP tracks and high energy gigs. Now, they have just released the debut album of 2018. A fierce, captivating, and empowering record from a band whose vitalising energy is thrillingly infectious.
The group is fronted by the outstanding talent of Tali Källström, a strong, intelligent female role model who doesn’t need permission for anything, along with Rhodri Daniels, who brings savage guitars and intricate notes to the mix. The musical differences between the two as well as their self-confessed love/hate relationship adds fuel to the fire, making for a collision of two worlds, and an exhilarating sound that hits even harder thanks to their razor sharp rhythm section, comprised of Steffan Pringle and Toby Bangs. One of the keys to their brilliance is their total defiance of boxes and stereotypes: some have described their songs as alt-rock, post-punk, garage rock and even pop-punk, but Estrons bash out an explosively dynamic sound that is very much their own. “I didn’t want to be another rock band that looked and sounded like something else that had existed before,” Källström told the NME. “These bands must be lying when they say, ‘We all just met and it was all fine and we liked the same music and now we write this.’” There certainly aren’t many groups who could remind you of Savages one minute, and Rihanna the next.
While many indie rock bands dabble with production methods and electronics to mirror their diverse influences, Estrons sonic power is rooted firmly in raw, organic rock noise but the songwriting and melodies take cues from many unexpected and contrasting styles. Their disregard for sticking to a generic formula fits nicely with their lyrics that strongly encourage individuality and strength, while also dealing some below the belt blows to society’s shallow standards.
Not a second is wasted right from the opening rumble of Lilac, a boundless joyride of an opener revelling in ferocity, chaos, and rousing hooks that conceal the darkness behind the lyrics. “It’s not all bleak bleak bleak,” says Tali. “That’s not what I’m trying to achieve with the album, I don’t want people to feel just terrible. I want to empower people, and I want to get some laughter.” A perfect trio of high energy belters continues with the terrific Killing Your Love, hammering into the conscience with its angular rhythms, dynamite riffage and amped up middle section where they kick into furious overdrive with full impact. “I originally wrote it about a specific person who I felt was a love addict, but then after I wrote it, I realised we’re all terrified of being alone.” Best listened to at maximum volume, as is hyperactive, rip-roaring Make A Man, a strong statement of dominant, commanding female sexuality which almost brings to mind a punk rock Missy Elliott.
There’s startling confidence, and there’s vulnerability too. Showing they can step into more delicate territory with complete ease, the beautiful sadness of Strangers is a heartfelt moment that resonates with a wonderful sincerity, while the highly-charged Body is one of those jaw-dropping songs that makes you stop whatever you’re doing, as its snarling bass and brutal snares kick in along with a menacing hiss of creeping feedback. Källström grabs you by the balls with one of many astonishing vocal performances, switching from brooding seduction to full-throated rage on its explosive chorus. Lyrically it doesn’t fuck about either, dealing a blow to the shallow, image-obsessed mentality of mainstream culture and crushing it with a mighty sense of self-belief. Or as Tali recently commented: “Resist the paradigms of our digital world, that demands a status of sanitised and pristine physical attractiveness, regardless of truth or fact. Choose not to follow. Search for truth in yourself.” Bringing together an inspired near-amalgamation of Destiny’s Child and Nirvana, it’s a fine example of how hugely contrasting elements collide within the Estrons sound to create something special and utterly thrilling.
Aggression and intelligence are all in plentiful supply throughout the record, which begins its second half with the fat riffage, slamming rhythm and filthy Rage Against The Machine-style bass of Jade. Jagged guitars play alongside the captivating melody which sweetly wraps itself around the charming verses of Cameras before leaping into a stunning chorus, where that phenomenal voice soars with maximum emotion that resonates terrifically. Along with its sky-high solo, this is truly awe-inspiring stuff and a life-affirming expression of unconditional love. “I went through many court cases to simply be able to be a single mother and a touring musician,” says Källström. “I was constantly watched. I had social services called on me, I had police turn up to tours.” Often, it is troubled souls who create the most brilliant art. “I went through a really, really, really difficult two years where lots of bad stuff happened, and a lot of the lyrics were inspired by that”. “A lot of the songs come from deep, dark places and powerful moments… Without our music, I don’t know what I’d be doing. It saved me from myself. I went through a tough time, and I’ve felt such dark things but what I’ll do is pick up a pen, and start writing. It’s definitely a therapy. It’s great being able to get it out. Without it, I don’t know what I would have done.”
Jesus again exhibits versatility and striking dynamics, alternating between a slinky foot tapper and a fist-in-the-air alt-rock monster, while Alien’s laid back, static cool is countered with explosive outbursts that keep up the energy and intensity, leading into an inspired change of pace towards the end and going off on another hugely enjoyable rampage. Ending as it began with a thrilling bang, the raucous Drop is a fierce blast of high octane madness that sets the pulse racing off the scale and leaves you wanting more of this raw, life-affirming brilliance. “People get made to feel ashamed for feeling angry,” says Tali. “You try so hard to kill it with love and be positive, but sometimes it’s just not possible. Sometimes you wanna be angry.” Fast, loud, adrenaline-fuelled noise is balanced perfectly with genuine, unbridled human emotion and vulnerability to evoke strength, energy and vitality across this awesome half hour.
Developing their sound over the three years together before recording their first album has paid off, resulting in an impressively accomplished debut. Packed full of raw, passionate music that excites the mind and arouses the soul, You Say I’m Too Much, I Say You’re Not Enough brings a gut feeling like no other new band have delivered for years. 2018 is the time for Estrons.