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.
An intoxicating combination of toughness with despair and vulnerability. Chiming, raw, angular guitars float above pulsing rhythms. The lyrics toggle between scattershot randomly impressionistic and unsparingly self-conscious. Reminds me a bit of Parquet Courts, but I prefer this because despite the ferocity, it's haunted by a melancholy dreaminess that I'm just in love with. Feels distinctly British to this American listener; I don't think it could have come from anywhere else. Joe Madden