Eagulls review – 'Bitter tales of anguish'

Electrowerkz, London
Stark lyrics, punchy choruses and brilliant melodies lend this band style, but their vitriol needs greater variety

"Dance then, wherever you maybe," intones Eagulls singer George Mitchell, taking a swig from a bottle of red wine. "I am the lord of the dance, said he." As the grandson of a vicar, evoking a hymn might come more naturally to Mitchell than most, but as he peers into a dark crowd – comprising of a small but impassioned mosh pit and a still majority waiting to be impressed – his words sound like a plea.

Since forming in Leeds in 2010, things have moved fast for Eagulls. Their bile-branded punk has garnered plenty of hype, and with their eponymous debut album less than a week old, they've already got a Letterman appearance under their belts.

Still, they look like a band with something to prove. Kicking off with Nerve Endings, Eagulls dive deep into disenchantment, unleashing an anguished roar of noise while images of rotting teeth, skulls and anatomical drawings are projected on to and behind them. Mark Goldsworthy and Liam Matthews' hands are a blur against their squalling guitars, while drummer Henry Ruddell and bassist Tom Kelly whip up a thunderous, exhilarating rhythm. They sound like Mask-era Bauhaus throwing curious shapes alongside defunct hardcore band Dead Swans. Mitchell's vocals are just as dark and incendiary, his bitter tales of heroin addicts, thalidomide victims and demoralised twentysomethings sung in a yelp reminiscent of Robert Smith, but fuelled by anguish rather than romance.

Mitchell, though, has none of the pomp of his predecessor. In fact, Eagulls look like a motley crew of IT workers rather than the thrilling face of goth-punk. Their style comes from the stark lyrics, punchy choruses and brilliant melodies of Tough Luck, Amber Veins and Possessed.

Still, while the elements are all there, they're not enough to set the venue alight. Maybe it's because, as Mitchell laments, he can't see the crowd's faces, or perhaps the lack of variety into Eagulls' vitriol is to blame. Given time, though, this is a band who could definitely fly.


Betty Clarke

The GuardianTramp

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