‘Despite the noise and angst, these are essentially pop songs, shot through with hooks and melodies‘ – Neill Dougan on Otherkin‘s debut EP Broken English.
Let’s face it, nobody’s perfect. Everyone screws up from time to time. Difficult though it may be to believe, even this reviewer has made his fair share of cock-ups. Amongst our most heinous errors was a period in the mid-90s when – pre-internet and hopelessly in thrall to the NME and Melody Maker – we became briefly enamoured with britpop music. You know the type of thing – Shed Seven, Cast, Sleeper. All that shit. Whisper it, but there’s even a copy of the Menswear album lurking somewhere in our CD collection, like a pair of soiled underpants that have fallen down the back of the washing machine, there to fester and putrefy forever. Oh, the shame.
On the evidence of their debut EP Broken English, Dublin band Otherkin have also drunk long and deep from the well of the 1990s. Fortunately for them, however, they have successfully avoided the pitfalls that have so embarrassed your correspondent by listening to music from that decade that was actually, y’know, good. This has stood them in good stead. Thus, ‘89‘ (which, lyrically at least, purports to be a tribute to De La Soul’s 3 Feet High And Rising) is reminiscent of both the perennially under-rated Longpigs and The Bends-era Radiohead – the verses all tense, anxious and angular, the strutting chorus a powerful release. Throw in a rubbery bassline, some sinuous lead guitar and the unusual, singular intonation of singer Luke Reilly and you have a promising opener. Next up the band confidently toss out a sub-two minute, new-wave, Strokes-ish rip-snorter in the form of ‘Anotherkin‘, before lead single and EP centrepiece ‘Lockjaw‘ takes the stage. Apparently a “pop song about depression”, it’s marked by a yearning melody and some noteworthy guitar interplay between Reilly and Conor Wynne.
The EP’s final two songs find the band moving into darker territories. ‘Waypoints‘ is a tempestuous affair, the chorus howled over a veritable maelstrom of guitars. ‘Better Undone‘, the most unusual track here, is a cacophonous closer, betraying the influence of hardcore punk with its raucous, clattering coda.
Despite the noise and angst, these are essentially pop songs, shot through with hooks and melodies. While there’s perhaps nothing here that exactly screams ‘originality’, it’s early days for a group that appear to lack little in the way of self-belief, and there’s enough vim and character on show to suggest that we’ll be hearing more from Otherkin. Just keep them away from those dodgy britpop albums, for the love of all that’s holy.