Vets In Hong Kong - EP

Owain Paciuszko 23/02/2011

Rating: 4/5

Synths loop over skittering hi-hats on the introduction to Flags before Matt Grindon's voice enters, every syllable delivered with a tremble, it's like a downtempo Kotki Dwa, drums slowly picking up, anticipation raising, as Grindon sings 'Out of this mouth, into this brain.' It builds with moody backing vocals towards a close, a strange mish-mash of trepidation and excitement, and a nice start to this five track.

Nobody transforms rapidly into an anti-folk The Cure track, guitar jangling desperately, this three piece producing a layered and interesting sound, with Matthew Reay's drums an urgent, intriguing element here. Shapes You Made and Left Without sounds like Leaders of the Free World-era Elbow having a post-punk freakout, Grindon murmuring 'Keep it away, keep it away.' It builds towards a raucous and rambunctious conclusion before drifting into a sleepy synth-line, cut brutally short to become the scratchy lo-fi Giant Wooden Horse which sounds like an acoustic version of an electro-heavy Bright Eyes song. Percussion rattles as if being played in a kitchen, whilst Grindon pulls the reins on his shaky voice antics, delivering a melodic and wraught bitter ballad excellently, bass player Nick Butler's backing vocals adding a weight of emotion to the choruses. There's an energy that comes across in the rougher recording and the whirligig of sound that sits this track on a pedestal high above the rest of the EP, a glorious highlight.

There's a touch of Islet to the drum stick rattle and dark edged synths that open Travelmakers Sing, though Grindon's vocal is more Baxter Dury, contrasting wonderfully against the twinkling glockenspiels and portentous mood. The vocals slowly drift away, leaving the sombre yet groove-driven instrumentation to fog up towards a final, sad-eyed synth line closes out the record.

A great EP from three highly creative Londoners, one track stands head and shoulders above the rest, but those were pretty high shoulders to begin with.