On first listen, the Leeds five-piece, Eagulls are a mess of blistering guitars paired with the constant rumble of drums and bass. Lead singer, George Mitchell, sneers his lyrics, while guitar licks reminiscent of The Cure and My Bloody Valentine provide noisy melodies and fill the interludes. It’s the kind of music that, at moments, makes you want to tear your hair out—but in the good way. Their label, Partisan Records describes them as, “Brash and opinionated, short and sharp, fast and furious.” Alliteration aside, the description is certainly accurate.
Mitchell was, notably, the last to join the group’s current lineup, but his lyrics and vocal style fit in quite nicely with the constant brewing of noise and aggressive melodies. “Now it’s too late/You’ve found your prey…the truth is opaque!” he belts in the song “Opaque.” If Baz Luhrman ever decided to direct a version of The Omen, these guys would be on the soundtrack. Beyond hypothetical film scores, Eagulls‘ style is achieved by poignantly combining the angst and rhythm of punk with the melody of new wave.
When I witnessed their performance at Seattle‘s Crocodile, earlier this month, it seemed as if the Brits had only one trick in their pocket. Eagulls went through most of their self-titled full-length debut (released in March) while working in the single, “Moulting” from their 2012 EP. They ended off the night with, “Possessed,” an album standout which previously appeared on a 7-inch split with the band Mazes, 3 years ago. The bass and drums would drive the beat forward, while dual guitars unleashed an amalgamation of shoegazey riffs, chords, and feedback. Mitchell would chime in at just the right moments to provide the onslaught with full impact. This “one trick,” however, works (and left my ears ringing). The sound that they have crafted for themselves is both distinctive and oddly catchy. At times, the haze of the feedback and repeated rhythms can become entrancing.
The night before the show, one of my friends had mentioned the video for the song, “Nerve Endings,” which involved the band filming a pig brain in their basement until it was eventually ridden with maggots. The scene was vile enough for the police to be called in by a gas man who noticed the decomposing organ, resulting in the door being kicked in and the residence being raided, while the members were away. It’s the type of imagery to make one cringe, while remaining hard to look away from, which is also a good way to characterize the music created during this outfit’s most sonically chaotic moments.
The way that the quintet presented themselves was comment worthy. They were set up in front of a white screen/sheet that was bearing their logo and hung from the ceiling. Having never been to a show at the small Seattle venue before, my first thoughts were, “Wow, bands play shows on the floor here; that’s awesome! What an intimate environment for them to perform in.” Then I noticed the stage (as well as the price of the “cheapest” beer) and my elated opinion of the club faded, but my respect grew for Eagulls. Bassist, Tom Kelly, was stocky with glasses, and his constant picking at the root note in each song seemed to take every vestige of his strength. Liam Matthews, the guitarist responsible for the constant barrage of swirling static, let his hair hang over his drooped body throughout the entire show. Mitchell, with his preened down do, crooned his lyrics with his defining accent. The differing physical personas certainly give insight into how this group can so easily grasp entropy in their work.
The only disappointing aspect of the show was the crowd. Everyone seemed pretty mellowed out in the face of all the pandemonium. Few people were moving around. I expected more out of a Seattle crowd, but it was a Wednesday night and there were few young ruffians aside from my friend Brett and I.
Eagulls are certainly a response to “all the beach bands sucking each others dicks and rubbing the press’ clit,” which they referenced in the controversial open letter that appeared on their website earlier this year (now replaced with a crude photograph of testicles tucked under a man’s ass with a pair of eyes scrawled on it in permanent marker). Their chaotic moments utilizing feedback and melodic riffs only serve to legitimize them in the face of a lot of the major chord bullshit that claims to be “surf rock.” In their own distinct way, Eagulls is more “punk” than most of the acts that are currently on the scene. They don’t serve the genre straight up, but give it a unique twist that keeps things fresh and keeps me listening. The trade off is that they are not terribly dynamic, but that’s the price they pay for accomplishing an original sound.