Asylums may have been played on commercial radio stations such as Radio 1 and XFM, but don’t think they’ve forgotten their roots. Many of their singles have been released on the Southend band’s own Cool Things Records and many also contain quips attacking the fake industry they now find themselves a part of. The result is Killer Brain Waves, a frenetic twelve song album that never fails to be politically and socially aware at all times.
Throwing you into the album rather than ushering you in, opener Second Class Sex gives Vaccines vibes á la Blow It Up before a blistering bass and screeching guitar kick in and change the direction completely. The drums are used equally effectively on I’ve Seen Your Face, punctuating every word damning the fakeness of the industry, ensuring the message gets through without sounding too pushy. The brash vocals of the first two songs pave the way for a softer, sadder drawl on Joy before the bass driven Bad Influence returns the energy. Biggest single to date Wet Dream Fanzine utilises a dizzying riff to great effect but the placing on the album begs a question: is putting seven previously released singles on a twelve track album not a little lazy? The singles are undeniably great but they have the power to create a sense of repetitiveness.
It’s fair to say that the second half of the album is better than the first, with the exception of ’90s Britpop turns Born To Not Belong and Sunday Commuters. The Queens Of The Stone Age-inspired Monosyllabic Saliva is brilliantly dark and moody while Missing Persons adds some emotion after being dedicated to Viola Beach at Flying Vinyl Festival early this year. Necessary Appliances sees the band at their most confident both lyrically and melodically while Slacker Shopper sums up the name of the band perfectly; incoherent melodies littered with fuzzy vocals.
The entirety of Killer Brain Waves feels concocted on the spot, bringing back the urgency and enthusiasm that music has been missing of late. Whilst it does not always hit the mark, isn’t it a good thing that they’re at least trying to make guitar music exciting again?
For fans of: Fall Out Boy, Otherkin, The Amazons
Words by Clara Duffy
‘Killer Brain Waves’ by Asylums is out now on Cool Things Records.