Washington Irving - Little Wanderer, Head Thee Home EP

Hamish Gibson 12/07/2010

Rating: 4.5/5

Following last year's single 'The Magician', Washington Irving have released their debut EP, 'Little Wanderer, Head Thee Home'. This EP is what WI have spent years honing, and combines the majesty of Arcade Fire with the wild dancing of The Pogues.

'SiSi' has a talent of hyping itself up, where each section of the song has its own personal build-up (achieved mainly through the pounding drumming of Chris McGarry) and draws the listener in to a series of endless jiving and head-bopping. One minor criticism I would make is that the build up is just so good, it takes away from the climax, but this is cancelled out by how fun a song it is. WI's lyrical qualities are also displayed: “I don't need a new leaf/I need a new tree/Will someone please explain what's happened to me.”

'Phantom Buck' is the record's token sing along. The chorus (sung by Joe Black) of “Stay here tonight/My phantom buck/And in the dying light/Kick the door shut” has you mouthing the words regardless of whether or not you've heard the song before. Although personally I prefer the original demo, that's just a nostalgia thing.

The technical highlight is 'The Glebe', where WI demonstrate the true depth of their talents. The music itself burns slowly, while bassist Kieran Heather plays a musical saw which adds a haunting atmosphere to the track. Flautist Roslyn Potter's sweet vocals ring throughout the entire track juxtaposing against such lyrics as “And I know I won/'Cause I'm fuckin' solid” to give the song a new rough edge while sticking to instantly charming instrumentals.

I wouldn't call this a 'collection' of songs, more a series. A 'collection' implies that all the tracks have the same objective, whereas these songs are much more independent. While they each serve their purpose well (whether it's the chin-stroking glory of 'The Glebe' or the chance to dance wildly to 'Dear Liza'), I can't help feel there's more uncharted territory for the band. The EP is great, but it does seem to lack just that final finishing touch, unless it's an excellently crafted cliff-hanger.

'Little Wanderer, Head Thee Home' is out now on Instinctive Racoon Records.