In pride of place at the top of the hand-drawn artwork of Bramwell’s new record is a small model of a Bell 47 helicopter. It’s just like the one ABBA had on their Arrival album and, while the Shelf Life EP certainly marks Bramwell’s advent, musically the content is so far away you’d need a Bell 47 to get there.
The Devonshire four piece of Tom, Sol, Murphy and Avalon, are phenomenally good live – and that’s putting it mildly. Velvets cool, with Mark E Smith vocals, piling into a soundtrack that’s two parts Pixies to one part Bernard Butler, they’re an art-rock dream. Over the last two years they’ve got one hell of an act together and picked up a solid gang of dedicated Bramheads along the way. The question is, will their barrage of angular riffs, spitted vocals and melodic interludes translate successfully onto record?
The answer is <drumroll please> YES. But not how you might expect.
This EP could have been all balls out, brash bravado. But turning guitars up to eleven is a lazy way to attract attention. Instead Bramwell have taken a subtler approach and utilised a more classic indie-punk sound. It’s the right choice. Songs this immediate don’t need over-production.
Take opener ‘Sun Seize Script’ – it’s incessant riff burying into your psyche with nagging repetition before blowing your preconceptions away by leaping into a chorus that has a surprising nod to Blur’s ‘Popscene’. Meanwhile, ‘My Addiction’ (a frantic pogo with a lyric that holds a broken mirror to the 2p pushers singer Tom witnessed when working at his local arcade), is a mosh pit waiting to happen. Stand out track (and the slowest of the batch) ‘Upside Down’ grafts a lighter-waving anthem to a tale about contacting the dead. Finally ‘Shelf Life’ closes proceedings with an updating of The Airbourne Toxic Event’s ‘Papillon’, which unbelievably questions the point of making this EP in the first place.
The point is pretty obvious. Bands this good don’t come along very often. Miss Bramwell at your peril.
Shelf Life is out now – stream it on Spotify
Review by Peter Richard Adams