The fact that this band used to be called Christian AIDS (until they were threatened with legal action by Christian Aid and forced to change their moniker) should not detract from the fact that Stay+ [Twitter/Facebook] (that’s ‘stay positive’ and not ‘stay plus’, just by the way) are a force to be reckoned with. The Manchester-based electronic act decided to release their debut EP Arem as a 50″ poster, and the same kind of inventiveness runs through their music.
The EP was trailed by the euphoric Guardian last month, a song that recalls both older Depeche Mode material and the gleeful abandon that permeates most of the songs that Friendly Fires have written. The song may seem to thrive on repetition – something that can broadly be said of the EP as a whole – but it subtly shifts and changes over three minutes, leading into the kind of unstoppable chorus that will make plenty of other bands of this ilk quite jealous; the sort of ‘why didn’t I come up with that first?’ spark of inspiration that helps a song to ignite.
The band have a fine grasp on dynamics, too: opening track Call Him builds for two minutes, steadily ratcheting up the tension with echoing bass-drum kicks and warped vocals before rewarding the listener with an explosion of synths and simple yet efective percussive blasts, once again making full use out of repetition, becoming fixated on small ideas and testing everything out, just because. That sort of attitude lines up perfectly with the adventurous nature of the music that makes up the EP. Hush Money‘s chiming synths and cinematic scope, interspersed every now and then with an extremely well-chosen vocal sample, help it to show off the band’s diversity.
Though it may not sound like it at first, a ton of ideas are in fact present on the EP, some of them so subtle that they only reveal themselves after four or five listens. When Stay+ want to go the direct route, however, they can do that just as well: the extraordinarily powerful closer Dandelion Seed contains arguably the best melody on the entire EP, and hints at Arem being merely the tip of the iceberg. It’s impossible not to already be somewhat excited at the prospect of what they might do next.
Guardian (Single Version)
Dandelion Seed (Single Version)
Arem is out now via Ramp Recordings; the 50″ poster can be ordered here.