Where Eagulls land

Mainstream music may have become tad too boring for guitar bands, but astride the margin that divides mainstream and underground, there are plenty of green shoots. Leeds-based post-punk band Eagulls (pronounced exactly like the more famous Eagles) is one such band: theirs is a fierce and angry sound, with elements of grunge, hardcore and shades of goth, too.

Make no mistake about it, despite being unashamed of wearing influences on their sleeves, Eagulls have a sound all of their own. From the twin guitar salvos of Mark Goldsworthy and Liam Matthews to Tom Kelly and Henry Ruddell’s flawless rhythm section crowned by John Mitchell’s voice of reason, they’re unshakable and on their long-awaited eponymous first record, an unstoppable force.

Throughout its 10 pieces, Eagulls delivers in every conceivable way. Opening proceedings with Nerve Endings, the standard is set from the album’s opening bars and it’s made quite clear for the listeners that this album will be loud.

Hollow Visions and Yellow Eyes follow suit in rip-roaring fashion, the former’s full-throttle assault clearing the way for the latter’s cautionary build up that evolves into an avalanche of effects-laden guitars. The album’s best track, Possessed, would stand out on just about any post-punk mix tape, and will rule over punk arenas in the years to come. It’s crisp, explosive and sharp, the kind of song you can imagine inspiring a drunken sing-along 10 years down the road. Then there’s the five-minute closer, Soulless Youth, a song with very amped-up score followed by a howling psychedelic climax. “You’re soulless inside!” spits Mitchell, oozing vitriol from every pore. It’s a pulsating adrenalin rush that collapses under its own weight.

Formed in 2010, these guys may be new to the scene but they sure know how to fashion out a track with enveloping noise and feedback.

As with all first albums, this one also has its share of flaws. The album is a bit of a conundrum on first listen: it’s quite clear what kind of songs Eagulls are trying to write, but they undercut themselves at every turn. Structurally, the band stay within a pretty basic, punk-derived framework, but Mark Goldsmith and Liam Matthews’ guitars are layered with reverb when one would normally expect a clear, precise tone. One would assume that this was an attempt to distinguish Eagulls from other similar bands, but it saps power and energy from the songs at times. There are moments when you feel that this is where Eagulls should have an edge but they just come across as dull.

However, all these issues don’t matter much as long as they are willing to work on their weaker aspects. Eagulls have synthesised their influences well, and have created an enjoyable rock record and that’s something most bands will be happy to achieve with their first record. Even though Eagulls is not exactly life-changing music, the songs stick with you, and sometimes that’s enough.


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