Crushed Beaks – Tropes EP

Anyone having made their acquaintance with Crushed Beaks through listening to their 2012 single ‘Breakdown,’ could be forgiven for thinking that the four tracks on ‘Tropes’ were made by a completely different band. Eschewing the indie-pop and ska-esque, Caribbean flavoured rhythms of last year’s release, the London duo have treated us to a debut EP of visceral, raucous but pleasingly tuneful, punk inflected noise-pop.

Layout 1

The ambient feedback coupled with drummer Alex Morris’s gradually emerging cymbals at the intro to ‘Feelers’ is the most transient of calms before Matt Poile’s guitar heralds in the boisterous scuzz-pop storm.  A track described by the band as about the ‘unknowability of others,’ the lyrics are hard to decipher within Poile’s exuberantly incoherent delivery; however, as some breathing space opens up at the song’s bridge, the lyrics of ‘This stupid game has lasted so long, now I look for an answer/But still I look’ allude to a frustration in trying to figure a certain someone out.

Title track ‘Tropes’ wastes even less time in launching into the turbulent rush of uproarious guitar and drums.  With an irascible vocal that certainly bears a passing resemblance to Joe Strummer, the song is the most punk the band have sounded so far in their young career. Amid the self-consciously shambolic assault, it becomes clear that Crushed Beaks also have a melodic sensibility that imbues their music with a tunefulness that prevents it from being just a distorted racket. The ‘Woo-ah-ooh’ backing harmonies that follow the choruses towards the track’s finale hint at a considerable ear for catchiness that, looking forward, may hold them in good stead.

‘Lies,’ with its sparse, echoing arpeggios replacing the hitherto relentless urgency of Poile’s guitar, slows things down a little. However, just as your ears begin to adjust to the change of pace, choppy guitar strokes and a frenetic drum fill signal the approach to another clamorous chorus that sticks pleasantly in the memory; it serves as yet further evidence of the band’s ability to deliver accessible choruses while revealing the best example of the band’s grasp on the quiet/loud dynamic.

This dynamic is further explored on ‘Day Residue.’ Beginning with a slightly eerie twin effect of guitar and synth, the relative hush of the guitar picked verses then explode into an exhilarating surge of punk rock energy at the chorus; these rousing transitions are possibly the best moments of the EP and one is slightly disappointed that the track brings an end to proceedings.

With these 4 songs, Crushed Beaks display the rowdiness and exuberance of youth through spirited playing and lack of adherence to polished production while at the same time revealing a precocious ear for a hook. After the relative tranquillity of their aforementioned single released just 10 months ago, ‘Tropes’ sounds like a call to arms and, if an entire album of similarly buoyant accessibility can be conjured, they will be more than ready in the battle for notoriety.


By Scott Hammond


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *