Release Date: Jul 15, 2014
Record label: Mute
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
If the lyrics of Big Deal’s new EP are anything to go by, guitarist Kacey Underwood and singer Alice Costelloe’s hearts have been stomped on more times than Kevin Shields’ apocalypse pedal (possibly by each other, it’s been rumoured). The tetchy ‘Talk’ is familiar as the original version was on their 2013 album ‘June Gloom’, but the Interpol-go-post-rock crunch of ‘Always Boys’, with Costelloe’s withered cry of “He’s a lover, not a fighter, but he’s gone”, is a whole new level of loss. The title track, meanwhile, sounds like something that could lead an acoustic Karen O solo album, and the Elastica-tinged ‘Figure It Out’ is pure Britpop brilliance.
When London-based boy-girl duo, Big Deal, released a single called “Talk” in 2012, it was love on first listen for a lot of people. Their debut album, Lights Out, was all tightly wound aggression, acoustic guitar juxtaposed by it’s growling electric counterpoint, razor-sharp vocal slurs delivered in the softest of tones. Repressed angst, repressed love, repressed sexual tension.
Sakura is most likely meant to capitalize on Big Deal’s recent stint opening for Depeche Mode in Europe. The duo of Brit Alice Costelloe and Californian Kasey Underwood have streamlined their moderately dreamy, twin-guitar indie pop over the course of two albums, and this four-song offering continues in that vein. “Talk” morphs from a sparse, garage-y guitars-only track on first album Lights Out to a chugging, full-band, piece of grunge-pop here.
The last EP I reviewed was Polica’s Raw Exit, and cynical as I was about its commercial reasoning - it came attached to a ‘deluxe reissue’ of their excellent Shulamith, less than 12 months after the original - it did at least serve the kind of purpose that most quick-fire releases should strive for; it represents a stop-over between records, and hints at what might be next for the band. That’s certainly more than you can say for Big Deal, because with Sakura, they sound as if they’ve regressed from last year’s fine full-length, June Gloom. That record had a genuine vibrancy; sure, the transatlantic duo were doing nothing new, in terms of where they were taking their cues from, but they brought an energy to their influences that made for a perfectly enjoyable pop affair.