Release Date: Mar 10, 2015
Record label: Slumberland
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
For a subgenre that is so reverentially discussed as shoegaze, it’s no surprise that people have been anticipating a revival of sorts since the early 00’s. Truth is, though, it never really went away – those hazy, circular guitar lines that drone with no shortage of feedback have been a quietly persistent theme in rock and indie music ever since its pinnacle, but there seems to be a particularly large swell of bands with a predilection for MBV-inspirited reverb and distortion of late. Through proving that not all C86-indebted acts of today are just jangle and fey posturing, Evans The Death have already been needlessly bracketed under said revival, though subtle sonic comparisons are aplenty: bass-heavy "Terrified", for example, ebbs and flows like a classic shoegaze track.
Evans the Death's self-titled first album burst forth with the energetic fervor of youth, the group tearing through songs like it was a race to the finish, while vocalist Katherine Whitaker rode the churning waves of sound like a champion surfer. Their second album is a bleaker, more resigned and bitter affair. Recorded over a three-year span during which the bandmembers suffered through poverty and breakups, Expect Delays trades the fire of youth for the weary desperation that comes with growing older, and while it's a different kind of album, it works just as well.
“Intrinsic Grey” sets the tone. The first song on Evans the Death’s second album is a glorious trainwreck, a stuttering, amped-up gem that regularly collapses under the weight of its own feedback. This is calamity-packed pop music, storm and stress with a melody, with guitars careening into each other and a rhythm section that lurches like a multi-car pile-up down on the highway.
Evans The Death’s second album practically picks up where their self-titled debut left off – the latter’s melancholic closer, ‘You’re Joking’, serves as a neat predecessor to the first 30 seconds of ‘Expect Delays’’ opener, ‘Intrinsic Grey’. After that first 30 seconds though, the guitars and drums kick in, and Katherine Whitaker’s vocals become less delicate and more of the angry yowling sort – in the best way. As she sings about never being enough, it’s hard to tell who she’s angrier at – society or herself.
How satisfying it is to hear a band grow into their sound, the awkward edges cornered off, the hesitant moments confidently filled. And it’s even more satisfying when that sound doesn’t take them down the easiest route. Despite being signed to legendary indiepop label Fortuna POP!, Londoners Evans The Death have honed a sound that owes more to ’90s alt-rock and britpop than the twee, C86 leanings of their labelmates.
Three strands entwine in the DNA of Expect Delays, the second album by the preposterously young and eternally drunk London quartet Evans the Death. Strand number one is absolutely unshakable classic pop instincts: reviewers tend to note the Eighties indiepop influence on Evans, but their chart-attack tendencies go way deeper than that – it’s Sixties girl groups, it’s Seventies bubblegum, it’s Cilla Black, the Shangri-Las and the Ronettes. Whatever else orbits their music, Katherine Whitaker's cut-glass, effortlessly distanced and properly English melodies mean there’s a sugared heart to each track.
Evans the Death — Expect Delays (Slumberland/Fortuna Pop!)If you’re going to write a song called “Don’t Laugh at My Angry Face,” don’t be surprised if the rest of us enjoy your misery. On their second album Expect Delays, Evans the Death try their best to make sure we get something out of their suffering, and it’s not catharsis or a like-minded expression. It’s head-nodding, melody-following joy, which maybe shouldn’t work for a bleak album.But it does.