ep review ~ 'pillow talk' ~ r51

Name: R51
Genre: N/A
For Fans Of: Radiohead, Meanwhile...Back In Communist Russia, Smashing Pumpkins
Location: Belfast

"You are sleeping. You are sleeping. You do not want to wake up. 
You are sleeping"

What is The Beast Of The R51 Broadcast?

To some questions, there are no definitive answers. Just an abundance of other questions, floating endlessly, a bit like us. A bit like 'Pillow Talk'. This debut extended release comes from a band consistently showing up their own incredibly high standards. For those convinced the hazy love-lust tranquility of singles such as 'Slowhound' was a one off, a stroke of luck or a freak accident perhaps, this may come as a shock to the system. For those already setting their sights upon the sun for this young band, you'll find nothing but total satisfaction. It really is that good.

Whilst this reviewers heart will always belong somewhere between 1989 and 1994, when music's concerned my spectrum reaches far over the Brit-pop soundscape and into the distance. My first alternative love came in the shape of 'Meanwhile...Back In Communist Russia', a short lived, post-rock student band from Oxford in the late 90's//early 2000's. Based upon front-woman Emily Gray's entrancing spoken word, the band put music to poetry and so encapsulated a 12 year old from Northern Ireland that he decided to dedicate his life to music. Okay, perhaps there's a hint of artistic licence on display here, but the point remains. R51 are the first band (bar perhaps, the genius of Hot Cops) to entice me in such a way since. 'Pillow Talk' is a dream within a nightmare, a shimmer in the dark.

A singular listen through this Ep, will never be enough. Be it 'Absolutely Nothing's dance-invoking melody, 'Pillow Talk's cataclysmic emotional blow-out or the orchestral brilliance of 'Seaweed', each and every track holds a clue. Each lyric a hint, a glimpse behind the iron curtain of this fantasy band. You feel throughout this Ep (which you never truly want to end) R51 are willing their listener to open their minds. You'll find no comfort in lead guitarist Jonny Wood's pen. Nor will you find any meaning. This is a band uncomfortable with the concept of forever, unnerved by the prospect of tomorrow. "You and I have got tonight..."

Lyrically R51 prove they are within the top three bands in the country on this record. Melyssa Shannon has adapted that enchanting voice of hers and elevated it further. Yes, there's hint's of Kate Bush (probably my favorite female songstress of all time) and she must never loose that; but 'Pillow Talk' see's her come into her own once again. Powerful, striking and equally brilliant in a daydream ('Seaweed', 'Pillow Talk') or a dark space ('I Hate That Too'), this is a voice of the people. This is someone singing about 'Life when it's not flowing'. Credit must too go to Jonny Woods, as not only does his guitar playing remain upon a wave, but the production of this self released Ep is astounding.

So bringing things back to our initial question, what is The Beast Of The R51 Broadcast?

A moment in time? A feeling? A lover? Society? Us?

We may never know for sure, and nor is that the point. 

I'm not sure I want to. 

Taylor Johnson

We don't need no, 

No Modern age. 

She don't need it, Shes so strange. 

We're all bleeding, And that's ok. 

Just don't believe it's all a game. And you're ok, And I'm ok...

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