So it looks as though Brawlers’ new EP is one exploring existentialism, the futility of life and our place in the universe. Anyone who’s even remotely familiar with the Leeds quartet’s previous output will immediately know that’s a complete lie – The Black EP is, in terms of intent, more of the same from Brawlers, namely supremely poppy punk brimming with wit and sardonicism.
While that may be the case, these five tracks are slightly less immediate than some of the band’s previous material, possibly because of a mild smoothening of some of their spikier tendencies, such as on the indie-style jangle of Do You Believe Me Now. It leads to the removal of some of the quirks present on past releases, and because of this, The Black EP staggers by comparison.
Still, that’s no slight on the songs themselves, as Brawlers have lost none of their knack for conveying their message in as snarky and self-deprecating a way as possible. Day Job‘s refrain of “I just wanna have a good time / I just wanna take drugs and be sexy” is bound to be a live mantra for years to come, while melancholic bass thrum of Shake Me Into Shape mirrors the sad-sack persona that frontman Harry Johns has built himself. To be honest there really isn’t a bad song on this EP; the worst is probably the aforementioned Do You Believe Me Now, and that’s only because its fuzzier, swirling production feels a bit more unsettled next to the comparative sharpness of the other four tracks.
In reality though, Brawlers progressing slightly further with their sound is a definite net positive. As well-versed as they’ve become with the more angular end of things, The Black EP‘s willingness to evolve, and the fact that it’s carried out with such gusto, paints Brawlers as a band with a lot more to offer outside of their comfort zone. It’s not essential listening – they have done better before – but even over a year since their debut, Brawlers are still one of the most consistent, enjoyable bands the UK has to offer.
For fans of: Johnny Foreigner, Dananananaykroyd, Stagecoach
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘The Black EP’ by Brawlers is out now on Alcopop! Records.