Wednesday, 4 January 2012
EP Review: The Half Rabbits – Machine Triumphant
Get It: Bandcamp
Sneaked out at the end of last year, Machine Triumphant was the second EP of 2011 for Oxford's post-punk outfit The Half Rabbits. With previous release Optimists making the Keep Pop Loud Top 5 of the year, and lead single 'Gasoline' being released on the KPL CD it's only right that the first EP Review of 2012 tackles this nearly neglected release.
Across the three tracks on Machine Triumphant, the band admirably display progressive tenancies without every going into pompous territory. Simultaneously they revive the post-punk genre and move it somewhere new. Owing to the past but not leaning on it as a crutch or actively mimicking. Even if it doesn't quite have the WOW-factor of Optimists, it'll only take one listen for you to realise that this is an excellent and ambitious release.
Opener 'Burn' brings to the table shimmering Bloc Party guitars and metronomic snappy drums. Once Michael's vocals enter they're joined by extra rhythms, drum machines that interrupt the guitars with everything building towards a heavier chorus than you might expect. With distorted guitars and apocalyptic textures it feels more Smashing Pumpkins at this point with a chugging guitar working against the more melodic lead. With the lyrics “We will watch the world burn”, it's evident that The Half Rabbits have constructed an immersive number that ably stitches together all components to take the listener on a journey through a scorched landscape.
More uplifting is track two, the appropriately titled 'Uplift'. The personal highlight of the EP too for me. There's something about it that reminds me of my teenage years around 2003/4, but I can't say exactly what that is. Much cleaner than 'Burn', 'Uplift', perhaps unintentionally recalls wide open skies with the vocals and guitars dancing around each other over the steady drum beat. Here the vocal recalls Interpol's Paul Banks and when they're joined by the backing harmonies of bassist Alice, bring the song to an epic climax.
'Aviator' closes the Machine Triumphant and again goes back to the rockier and more progressive leanings after a intro of chopping guitars and steadily pounded drums. A much bigger feel is leant by both the vocal reverb on the aggressive chorus and the nimble guitar work on the later peak. Said guitar playing feels as though it's intentionally reigning itself in, opting for complex and intricate rather than obvious virtuosity. When the vocals strain here as they often do, we see The Half Rabbits as much more of a rock band than in the past, but with their diverse influences and brilliant range they're capable of being more than whatever you had them pegged down as.
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