176 boasts five new tracks written and recorded over a fruitful five days at PRAH Studios, Margate. The band took a more expansive approach to the composition process, taking inspiration from the spatial and rhythmic sonics of electronic music and blending it with their existing unique sonic palette of drums, bass, violin, vocals...and no guitars.
Taking its title from the eponymous London bus route that runs from Penge to Tottenham Court Road, 176 contains themes of paranoia, social anxiety, jealousy and the accompanying nightmares these can create. The band explain: “All five songs have quite grim, dark subject matter. Once we’d started exploring that paranoid, angsty kind of path, the floodgates seemed to open and we ran with it”
Title track “176” finds the narrator sat on the top deck of the 176, feeling alienated from their surroundings and shell-shocked at the public’s decision to vote in favour of Brexit, whilst “While You Wait” is written from the perspective of a dog recalling happier times rolling in fields, as it waits to be put down at the veterinary surgery - penned while the UK waited to leave the EU, the metaphor couldn’t be clearer.
Elsewhere, “40 Faces” builds on a Morricone-esque bass riff to depict a jealous human waiting at home, tormenting themselves with images of what their partner might be up to without them. “The Nightmare” employs jarring call and response-style vocals to construct a sonically disorientating sound, creating a feeling similar to how you might feel after waking from a panic stricken bad dream or the anxiety you feel when trapped in an unnerving social situation.
The reason I love this record, is that despite being over 60, I am forced to dance about to it - non stop and grin at the lyrics. It is no longer possible for me to negotiate airports and traveling without having dry cleaning blaring into my soul - I could not deal with mankind without the driving rhythm, the poignant early 80’s guitar, and the laconic musings of this wonderful band.
Diggit! Innit? mrkndhm