One thing that people often forget about the music industry is that it is, in fact, an industry. Agendas are there to be met and more often than not, that comes from increasing promotion for only the most marketable bands; it’s why a slew of terrible bands will frequently adorn magazine covers, and why said magazines will rarely offer critical reviews to their own.
With that in mind, Screech Bats’ ethos is refreshingly easy to get behind, with a desire to move past a point where being a non-male band isn’t seen as novelty, and their strengths as a band are their primary deciding factors. That seems to be the aim with new EP Wish You Were Her, particularly in its focus on a decidedly no-frills approach. Simple, straightforward punk forms the basis, built on with poppier sensibilities akin to Britrock and a broad, distinct vocal performance from Esme Baker. All that combined means that Screech Bats aren’t the most furious punk band around, but even at this stage they’ve got phenomenal melodic instincts, and the dismissive sneer of That Valentine Song is easily the best track here thanks to bringing in a bit more intensity to complement.
At the minute though, there’s very little in Screech Bats’ repertoire that passes for truly great. The closest thing is definitely the lyrics, standing as candid snapshots that range from Baker’s struggles with mental health and the possibility to recover to inspirational women no longer in her life, but beyond that, Wish You Were Her feels a bit thin in spots. Take the double-time drums and grinding guitars on opener Blood In My Hair that feel specifically designed to fall into that crunchier punk bracket, only to be pushed back in the mix and feel weaker than they rightfully should. This isn’t too much of a problem on a poppier track like Every Good Thing, but it wouldn’t hurt Screech Bats to get a bit rougher and gnarled when the moment calls for it.
As such, Wish You Were Her feels representative of a work in progress over anything else. Screech Bats are making some significant strides, but there’s a number of obstacles that are still holding them back which, when cleared, should yield a much better final product. Still, this is decent for the time being – a good knowledge of melody combines with songwriting with depth for a listen that’s not strenuous but isn’t without its weight either. The best is yet to come for Screech Bats, but the headway they’re making is impressive nonetheless.
For fans of: Jimmy Eat World, Lower Than Atlantis, Nervus
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Wish You Were Her’ by Screech Bats is released on 30th March.