To support The Stranger‘s release, Creeper will be embarking on a tour of UK pubs and the dingiest of tiny venues. There’s a couple of reasons why the thought of this is so ludicrous – one, because the Southampton punks seem to be roping in droves of new fans on almost a daily basis. The second really highlights its ridiculousness, because with this third EP, Creeper have continued their near-perfect run of releases with yet another that knocks it completely out of the park.

While last year’s The Callous Heart was a masterful showcase of the massive anthems Creeper are capable of writing, The Stranger feels like them solidifying themselves as true greats. The drama and theatrics have been ramped up by a great deal on these five tracks, a large part thanks to new recruits, guitarist Oliver Burdett and keyboardist Hannah Greenwood. Their new status as a six-piece offers a more fleshed-out and dynamic sound, one they’ve already nearly mastered. Moody opener The Secret Society swirls with the kind of gothic energy that’s always been present but very rarely this overt, while the stripped-back Misery sways with a melancholy whose beauty is only amplified by Will Gould’s stunningly delicate vocal performance.

Speaking of Gould, he’s only gone and grown even further as a frontman. The formerly glaring Matt Skiba comparisons are all but a distant memory now; there’s a far more nuanced vocal delivery this time round, taking equal dollops of a number of reference points and melding them into a strikingly malleable but always recognisable identity. And these influences are taken from all over the place – there’s everyone from Conor Oberst and Gerard Way (especially on the rollicking closing track Astral Projection) to David Bowie and even Elvis on Black Mass‘s gloriously retro middle eight.

The only reason The Stranger just fails to top its predecessor is because its punch isn’t as immediate, but when it hits it’s arguably even longer lasting. The Stranger is everything exciting about Creeper with a fresh coat of paint that only serves to make the possibilities for the future even more exciting. The fact that this is only their third ever release and is better than some bands’ entire back catalogues is enough to show just how special this band really is.

8/10

For fans of: My Chemical Romance, AFI, Misfits
Words by Luke Nuttall

‘The Stranger’ by Creeper is released on 19th February on Roadrunner Records.

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