One thing that’s come to light with a lot of the bands finding their platform in the current post-punk explosion is that they frequently turn out far better than first impressions might let on. Early tracks and singles might indicate something without much lasting power initially, but with subsequent full releases from Fontaines D.C., The Murder Capital and others, they’ve proven to be doing a lot more to expand the sonic diversity within a scene that often can be perceived as a bit narrow. As such, there’s a greater level of optimism when going into Thee MVPs than there otherwise might’ve been; they’ve been hitting all the right beats as far as indie praise goes and from touring with a good number of names like Ty Segall and METZ, already hinting towards something noisier and more brash in where they’re taking their particular thread of post-punk. And while overcrowding in the scene is definitely an issue, it’s one that hasn’t proven too detrimental as of yet, and all the early signs for Thee MVPs don’t point towards that changing just yet.
And that’s exactly what Science Fiction offers, as Thee MVPs prove themselves to be another band that can ably chip out their own niche in post-punk and run with it. In fact, it’s the wider similarities that are most noticeable, in how, like a lot of their contemporaries, Thee MVPs are coming onto the scene with unavoidably rough edges and somewhat unrefined ideas, but there really is something strong within it all that doesn’t have to be looked for that hard, and continues to run within the zeitgeist while doing its own thing. It’s really good stuff overall, and the sort of thing that will be borderline irresistible if the right listener base can be effectively tapped into.
Even away from that though, there’s less of the artsiness and aloofness about Science Fiction that can create such a barrier around modern post-punk, instead choosing to channel a louder, thrashier tone that’s closer to garage-rock or noise-rock a lot more often. It works best when blunt efficiency is put into place like on the stampeding opener Ship Episode, Planet Episode, or on the meaty bounding of You Ain’t It and Super Contactable that’s probably the closest Thee MVPs come to replicating a more Idles-like take on post-punk. They do have a penchant for widening things out at times, and while HAL has the knelling, building rumble that the band lean into really well, there’s not as much done on the closing pair Funeral i And iii and US Airways (Final Flight), and it does make the end of this album feel unnecessarily bloated. It’s not necessarily a flaw, mostly because Thee MVPS are looking to carve their niche in as deeply as possible with these ideas, but you can tell this is a band that isn’t totally refined yet. They do a good job regardless, especially in the gritty mood their starkly grey production style conjures, but that can also push the vocals further into the mix than would be preferable, and the ragged edges become more noticeable there.
Still, they’re making good steps forward, and those movements feel tied into Science Fiction and how it tries to establish itself as its own thing. There’s a lot of smart ideas that comes from using references to classic sci-fi in post-punk’s usual themes of destitute modern bleakness and oppression – especially on a track like HAL when the metaphor is so tightly woven in – but there’s also the meta threads running through those ideas that bolster this album even more, how references points that could easily be seen as janky and of-their-time nowadays once represented humanity’s utopian future, only to now be co-opted to set the scene for what feels like the complete opposite and come full circle to how those references may be viewed now. It’s an idea that could’ve been sharpened just a touch more to get the most out of it, but it’s already well-realised to the point where it stands out, and really does shift the perspective on Thee MVPs to something more than just another grimy post-punk band.
Indeed, it’s easy to see them rubbing shoulders with the genre’s modern flag-bearers off the back of this debut, such is the strength of the material on offer but also the breath of vision that Thee MVPs have. As another raucous listening experience, it more than hits the spot, but there’s a good amount of intelligence and layering that could potentially make them stand out above the rest. Granted, there’s a bit of tightening needed before they’ve hit the finished article, but this is immensely promising all the same, with the image of this band being cult favourites not too far away in the distance.
For fans of: Idles, METZ, Talk Show
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Science Fiction’ by Thee MVPs is released on 29th May on Eeasy Records.