Assembly is the new EP release from KEG, and from the opening drum trill on the first track ‘Presidential Walk’, we’re off on a jagged ride that places rhythm in a super-charged rock tumbler. The pointy pop from this super-tight seven-piece is frenetic for sure, but it’s never chaotic. and the band are made up of Albert Haddenham (vocals), Joel Whitaker (bass) & Will Wiffen (synth), Frank Lindsay (guitar), Jules Gibbons (guitar), Charlie Keen (trombone & shell) and Johnny Pyke (drums).
The musicianship on Assembly bubbles like a pop jacuzzi around Albert’s voice as he talk-sings his way from a wryly conversational tone to a full-on incredulous bark. The songs form a wonderful arc with the fast-paced ‘Presidential Walk’ hooking you in with rambunctious clatter and smooth trombone before dropping you off at ‘Breaking Rocks’, which chimes with the fact that I have previously compared them to the spiky-funk of The Higsons and atonal indie of The Fire Engines. ‘Heyshaw’, the first single release from the EP, is a stand out delight and, now we are in a time when you can see KEG live, it seems inevitable you will find yourself joining in with chorus call and of response of “SINGAPORE, MALAYSIA, KUWAIT, BERLIN”. You can also read more about the song in the review I did for Joyzine back in July.
The EP also has moments where the sharp edges are smoothed away to reveal glimpses of their soft underbelly such as ‘Farmhands’ which, at times, undulates with swelling keyboards, glittering guitar harmonics and woozy trombone before hitting an exultant crescendo allowing the trombone to soar. Assembly closes with ‘Kilham’ which is like a surrealistic Rolling Stones song filtered through Scary Monsters-era Bowie and Television and there can’t be many songs that start with the line “Dried apricots on bamboo plates as I push the leather I accelerate, ten bags of rubble to go down in the lift, if you scratch anything you can find another lift home” and a chorus that starts with “Vampires hair on Polaroids, the smell of the Fiat”. I don’t know what it all means but I like it!
The more I listen to Assembly the more I appreciate that underneath the seeming chaos you have to be exemplary musicians to trap all that lightning in a bottle and yet still serve the songs not the players. It’s also refreshing to see all that spiky-indie goodness injected with a wry smile and a knowing wink and KEG are outstanding angular anglers who surely have a bright future ahead of them.
Review by Paul F Cook