ep review ~ 'waves collide' ~ gnarkats

For fans of: Mojo Fury, Havana House Party, General Fiasco

Sometimes things just fall in to place. Though the number of boats missed by promising bands over the years is heartbreaking, something, somewhere ensured that this year would not be the same for Belfast's Gnarkats. Slots at Spectrum Festival alongside a rejuvenated Mojo Fury, loyal audiences in attendance at an ever growing number of their shows and warm praise from everyone from BBC Radio Ulster, to The Thin Air have saw this band go from nowhere to become Belfast regulars in the space of a year. Encore NI had a listen to their hotly anticipated debut EP 'Waves Collide'...

One listen in and the only thing obvious about Gnarkats music is their absoloute refusal to follow the indie rule book. With the shortest song on this record coming in at an impressive 4 and a half minutes, it's clear this is a band with something to say and once more, they say it with passion. An intriguing blend of riff heavy rock and indie hooks, they've carved out a sound championed by the likes of the much loved Havana House Party, amongst others. That's not the only thing they share with their Antrim contemporaries, and just as their EP 'Demons' soundtracked much of 2011, Gnarkats are hoping their newest effort can do the same for 2017.

The forboding rumble of 'Running From You' sets the tone for an EP dancing between menace and melody, the lyrics often alluding to something darker beneath frontman Caolan McAuley's assured vocal. The subtle piano line in the chorus adds a nostalgic twist to a dark pop song.

'Can You Feel It' offers similar sentiments, but with a melody more immediately enchanting. Bouncing at the pace of a maudlin General Fiasco, it's in a straight fight with the swirling title track which succeeds it for the highlight of the EP. Beginning life as an ambient pop song in the mould of Go Wolf or Beauty Sleep, 'Waves Collide' builds to a triumphant close via ASIWYFA and A Plastic Rose, ending up somewhere in between. It's ridiculous and pulsating in equal measure, the sound of a band having the time of their lives, recording songs that feel like genuine insights into those lives.

(Photo by Chordblossom)
Then comes 'Sorry', an epic seven minute finale filled with gang vocals, dance worthy riffs and the carnival atmosphere that has followed this band at every gig they've played this year. There's even room for a sample of the iconic 'I'll give you the moon' scene from 'It's A Wonderful Life', previously hidden by Modern Baseball for a similarly emotional effect on 'How Do I Tell A Girl I Want To Kiss Her?'. On both occasions the moment has been perfect, the songs have been right and for Gnarkats it brings down the curtain in triumphant fashion.

By the end of it all you can't help but feel you've been taken on a journey by Gnarkats, one you'll be revisiting more than once.

Taylor Johnson

'Waves Collide' is released this Friday.

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