Jaws - Milkshake EP Review
Very little is known about Jaws except they're the latest hotly tipped outfit to emerge from Birmingham's seemingly thriving music scene. Formed little over a year ago at Halesowen College from the ashes of several punk and metal bands, their demos - or rather those of founding member, singer and guitarist Connor Schofield - created a stir among London's A&R fraternity after appearing on Soundcloud around March 2012.
Having only just released their debut single 'Toucan Surf' in August on London independent label Rattlepop, they spent the first part of 2013 on tour with fellow West Midlanders Swim Deep while being cited as ones to watch by Peace, arguably the current leaders of the scene some have appallingly christened "B-Town". Indeed, that record actually made the Radio 1 daytime playlist thanks to Huw Stephens, which only adds to the weight of expectation gathering around their teenage necks.
'Milkshake' then is a compilation of sorts, containing six tracks including the aforementioned 'Toucan Surf' and its follow-up 'Stay In'. While both of those merit their inclusion, particularly in the case of the former which sounds like New Order being re-enacted by Washed Out, it's the newer songs that really highlight Jaws as a band with several strings to their bow.
Opener 'BreeZe' rides along on the summery crest of a wave. Shimmering guitars descend as Schofield spills out lyrics like "Take my heart and run away". Happy go lucky sunshine pop this isn't, despite the Vampire Weekend style breakdown during the middle eight. Instead it borders on epic, floating away incandescently into a heartbroken ether. Second track 'Donut' throws another curveball into the mix, veering down the same C86 inspired surf pop boulevard as Diiv or Beach Fossils. While not reinventing the wheel in any way, shape or form, Jaws sound at their most comfortable here, and even in a saturated market, carries an accomplished, confident vibe.
'Friend Like You' borrows Peace's baggy-in-ten-easy-steps manual, Schofield's declaration "Save the world I'm coming too" having a touch of the Ian Browns about it. If anything, Schofield's vocal is perhaps the most distinctive element of Jaws' make-up. Contrasting youthful exuberance with a confident and somewhat assured swagger, his intentions abundantly clear throughout.
Closer 'Surround You' fuses the lo-fi techno of an embryonic Phoenix with the playful experimentalism of Battles, again fuelled by a cautionary tale of heartbreak that pleads, "Don't tell me that it's the end."
Perhaps the biggest criticism labelled at 'Milkshake' and its creators in general is for a band bursting with so many ideas, the end product feels a little rudderless at times. Nevertheless, it's still early days and if they can hit on a formula and stick to it, the future's theirs for the taking.
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