The Route One approach works – there may be merit to music being complex and multi-layered, but there are other times when nothing but the most straightforward material will do. It often has much more impact, too – just ask Fast Years [Twitter/Facebook]. To put it bluntly, the Brooklyn band don’t fuck about. They’ve only been on the scene for a short while after forming last year, but they’ve been making a name for themselves with some of the most thrillingly direct indie-pop that I’ve heard all year. Their six-song debut EP is wonderfully consistent, but it still only hints at what could still be to come.
It opens with a brace of familiar songs; we’ve featured Young Heart and Let Me Try on here before), but the older material, full of effervescent hooks, surf-pop infectiousness and 24-carat golden choruses, is refreshed by the new context into which it’s been placed. The lyrics are as easy to relate to as they’ve ever been (‘You’ve a got a young heart, you’re afraid to break it’), and each of these songs is part of a wider story. Impressively enough, it’s the newer songs that are even more worthy of note, proving that the quartet aren’t just a band that are set to burn bright and fade away – the fading away doesn’t even come into the equation.
The first of the new songs is introduced by a thudding bass drum, a chiming guitar line and some steady bass: it’s a song that is very easy to, well, fall for; it’s called Fall For Me and is, at the time of writing, my favourite song on the EP. It shows, more than any other song across Women‘s 16 minutes, what the band are truly acapable up. The bar’s set quite high by it, and even if the remaining three songs don’t quite match it, they still come quite close.
Like It Or Not comes equipped with an irresistible melody and a vocal line that easily gets into the listener’s head, while Stolen Love hints at the darker and bluesier side of the band’s output, combining a powerful riff with reflective lyrics to great effect. Happy Hour closes the EP with an extremely catchy vocal hook and and another impressive chorus. Melodically speaking, the EP is pretty much perfect from start to finish. Women may be rather straightforward, but sometimes the best things in life are the simplest, and this is very much the case with Fast Years.
Women is released next week.
In the interest of, ahem, full disclosure, I must admit that, before now, I wasn’t entirely sold on Disclosure [Twitter/Facebook]. The duo’s earlier, more dubsteppy material (in particular, the double A-side Street Light Chronicle / Offline Dexterity) exposed me to a genre of music I wasn’t too familiar with at the time – I remain thus – and left me wanting more. It didn’t do as much for me as I’d hoped, but regardless, I’ve been keeping tabs on their work since then. They’ve been hard at work this year – aside from the new EP, there’s also been the small matter of their remix of Jessie Ware’s Running. It’s brilliant. Much the same can be said of The Face.
Hold on a second, though: I haven’t done an about-face (again with the puns) and finally started enjoying dubstep; it’s them that have changed, and their new sound is more house-influenced. That’s definitely something I can get on board with. Besides, when they have songs as effortlessly cool as the Sinead Harnett-featuring lead track Boiling in their arsenal, it’s difficult to resist them. Their newest set of songs walks a fine line between beat-driven and melodic; at times, there’s a lot more emphasis on rhythm and gradual progression, though when the hyperactive cut-up vocal samples of closing track Control arrive, they allow themselves to cut loose (with some assistance from Ria Ritchie), and the results are fantastic.
With the shift in sound has come a new understanding of dynamics; they know how to let their songs breathe. Lividup could probably get its business done in about four minutes if Disclosure were intent on overloading it and making it too busy, but instead, they let it go on past the six-minute mark, letting its subtle nuances swell and develop. This sort of music can certainly go off (What’s in Your Head is sure to ignite dancefloors around the country), but Disclosure’s style isn’t garish and obvious, meaning that these new songs possess hidden depths that other artists in this genre may lack, and this helps them to stand out from the pack, as does the fact that The Face is the sound of them finally sounding sure of themselves. It’s both a reinvention and a statement of intent. It’s also very exciting.
The Face is out now on Greco-Roman.
I wonder how many words will pass before the fact that that this EP’s creator is only 17 is brought up. In the case of this review, the answer is (appropriately enough) 17. It’s very hard not to bring that up, even as it stands, and this is made even more difficult by my assertion that Nina Nesbitt [Twitter/Facebook] is an extremely talented young Scotswoman. I have somewhat of a thing for acoustic guitar-led folk-pop, and if you’re in the same boat, then I implore you to stop what you’re doing and, at the very least, check out the sumptuous title track from The Apple Tree.
It is a fine introduction to Nesbitt’s world, and the kind of narrative storytelling that she employs on the exquisitely-layered Seesaw is the sort that will resonate with Laura Marling fans, even if her songs are geared much more towards the end of the pop spectrum than that would suggest. Her deceptively simple and wonderfully direct melodies provide a platform for her distinctive voice. The EP artwork may come across as slightly too twee for some tastes, but her earnest approach to songwriting is indicative of someone with talent beyond their years, as is clearly audible on penultimate track Only Love.
Musically speaking, Nesbitt likes to keep things busy, but it is when she strips things back that she truly excels. Hold You features just her voice and a wonderful piano line, but it’s the EP’s finest moment by some distance. She has a bright future ahead of her if she can produce songs of that quality, and it’s a testament to her self-belief that she’s started writing songs at such a young age. Her best years are still to come, that much is for certain, but there’s a staggering amount of potential on The Apple Tree, and all of it can definitely be built on – not to mention the fact that it’s an impressive start.
The Apple Tree EP is out now on N² Records.
Title track stream: