Hailed as rejuvenators of the post-rock genre, Young Liar are doing away with indulgent decadence, eleven minute songs that sound like airports and song titles that are half a paragraph long. Spreading nineteen minutes of music over four songs makes the EP move along at absorbing pace, melodious, pretty tracks following a verse-chorus structure make the EP widely accessible.
Where previous releases have focused all energy on stunning soundscape creation, WDEHMB? has a more narrative emphasis. It takes quite some creativity to tell a story in a lyricless post-rock song, but Young Liar manage it magnificently. It is this story-telling that holds the listener’s attention throughout this moving, sometimes mournful, record.
Owning more effects pedals between them than pairs of underwear, Young Liar’s diverse range of guitar tones and firm grasp of dynamics keep things interesting, but their main formula seems to have changed little. The final song aside, that familiar recipe consisting of an emotive melodic hook played over a powerful chord progression is a feature of every song and an absolute staple of the genre. It’s a method that puts the feel first and the musical chops second. The wall of fabulous noise that is their rhythm section is, as always, dripping with an earnest sentiment that is the key to immersing the listener in the dramatic essence of their songs.
That’s not to say there aren’t any surprises in this EP, and being local to Newcastle seems to be the key to unlocking them. The second track has vocals! Not instrumental vocals either like “oooh”s and “aaaah”s – real vocals with propositional coherence and everything. It may take a Geordie to hear “Now for Shola” instead of “now for sure” on Full Blast for Pickett but this certainly is the lyric, and, unless you know any other Sholas (me neither), a clear reference to local footballing hero Shola Ameobi. Is it a coincidence the EP launch is the same week Newcastle play Sunderland? I think not! Thankfully I don’t think this will become a feature of future releases… the vocals’ place in the mix is best described as apologetic.
But the shocks don’t stop there, The Dunston Rocket features what can quickly be recognised as Dunston’s most famous son, Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne’s infamous interview where he revealed he had drunkenly brought fried chicken and a fishing rod to the perpetrator of the 2010 Northumbria Shootings, Raoul Moat, during his fatal stand-off with armed police. Musically it works very well and it gives the rest of the EP a kind of intentionality it had been lacking – that’s what I mean about the EP being more narrative. The shootings have become ingrained in the North East’s collective psyche and if nothing else, this mature and loaded use of non-musical material is, like mentioning Shola or launching the EP at the Miners Institute, an example of the band weaving the everyday fabric of life in Newcastle into the fabric of their creative output.
With its lack of physical instrumentation, fluctuating synthesiser riff and haunting outro, it is hard not to read an existential vibe into the ephemeral glory of Chemistry Comedy, as this fleetingly beautiful track finishes off an EP which is full of interesting surprises if you just know where to look for them.
Recommended for fans Mogwai and 65daysofstatic. Not recommended for fans of tattooing lyrics on their arms.