The Ending Of... - A Birthday Girl
Mike Mantin 00/00/0000
The Ending Of… are perhaps one of the finest examples of never-judge-a-book-by-its-coverism I've ever seen. Before you've heard their music, they seem like they're going to be the best unsigned band in the world. They list bands like Slint, My Bloody Valentine and Hüsker Dü as their influences and this demo comes packaged in a neat, hand-stitched black and pink sleeve.
Sadly, the music can't match the image. Though first track 'A Birthday Girl' has a brilliant intro that sounds like early Cure with an equally catchy riff, it's immediately clear that singer Ed Cox needs a lot of vocal training. The overly droning vocals and bog-standard lyrics make a potentially great song almost unlistenable. It's a shame because, as Cox fuzzily moans away, the song's riff and bassline keep hinting at a great song underneath.
'Gemima' sees more of their impressive influences creep through, but still the vocal problems continue. Here, Cox attempts to emulate Thom Yorke and end up sounding like, well, a bad Thom Yorke impersonator. The backing vocals at the end are even worse. It's a shame because the creepy backing track wouldn't sound out of place on Slint's 'Spiderland', and that is a compliment and a half. Again, it's another case of their clearly talented rhythm section outshining the singer.
'Scarecrow Child', strangely labelled as a 'Demo' despite having the same production values as the others, sees Cox quiet down a bit, yelling in the right places and leaving the band to do the main work. It's a vast improvement but here the weaknesses lie with the length. The song outstays its welcome and becomes repetitive, and the attempt at a style lo-fi, quiet-lout epic sadly fails. It's also a tad too close to 'Spiderland' for comfort.
The CD closes with a live track, 'Melody The Witch'. The appalling sound quality seems to be trying to mask the hints of melody in the song. It's a Pixies-style quiet-loud track again, but proves that Cox still can't get the vocals right. The poor quality recording make this potentially decent track night-on unlistenable. It's a shame because The Ending Of… clearly have the tunes and the riffs to make an impact, but with bad judgements of running-time and singing, this demo just doesn't hit the spot. If they come back with refined vocals, a new arsenal of tunes and an even cooler sleeve, The Ending Of… will be on their way to big things.