Since forming in 2009, Leeds-based Eagulls have become synonymous with a discontented, disillusioned kind of anger, molded into bullets of post punk that’s rife with urgency and aggression. Brash and opinionated, short and sharp, fast and furious, Leeds punk five piece Eagulls are the missing link in your record collection between post-punk and slacker rock, and every bit as essential as that description may sound.
On their self-titled debut, Eagulls reveal themselves to be a more intriguing, and more complicated, proposition than mere punk revivalists. Listening to furious outbursts such as “Amber Veins,” it’s easy to hear why they’ve played with bands like Iceage, and on “Nerve Endings and “Yellow Eyes,” they confront the void with as much noise as possible. Eagulls’angst sounds and feels more modern than another rehash of 1977’s discontents. They temper their fire with plenty of atmosphere: riffs are as likely to float in midair as explode; instead of an in-your-face snarl, George Mitchell’s howls are half-buried in the churning noise of his bandmates on songs like “Tough Luck”; and “Opaque”‘s whirling sound effects give its anthemic thrust an unexpected twist.
All of this makes Eagulls as eerie as it is intense as it swings between dread and catharsis. With its slippery chord changes, “Footsteps” is a fine example of the former that borrows a bit of Wire’s spiky paranoia. However, Eagulls are at their best when they inject a little joy into the frustration that dominates these songs. They do this brilliantly on “Possessed,” an anti-anthem that makes a searing, shoegaze-inspired riff fit through sheer force of will while channeling the album’s frustration into something exuberant. Likewise, the way Mitchell wails “I never feel fine” on the album closer “Soulless Youth” suggests Eagulls will find more than a few kindred spirits in their alienation. Eagulls’ density and intensity sometimes border on exhausting, but the album is an undeniably bracing beginning.