Devon Rockers, Black Thistles released their debut EP Who Cares back in April, and it’s a release which packs a punch from the get-go.
Opening track ‘Don’t Get Ready, Get Ready’ is a lesson in self-contradiction if ever there was one. This track boasts a stop-start melody with an infectious hook, which contradicts the monotonous vocal. As frontman Paul asks “you were all that I ever wanted / what does that say about me?” such rhetoric suggests the track is an exercise in self-reflection, evaluating a relationship that’s not what it once was: “you’re not what the doctor ordered”. The bass solo seems to epitomise the overall pessimistic tone, in spite of the tracks fast tempo. Such flippancy is epitomised in the lyrics: “get ready / don’t get ready / I don’t care if you don’t come out tonight”, inviting comparison to B-Town indie darlings, Peace.
Although it has become somewhat of a journalistic cop out to draw comparisons to Alex Turner and his merry men, there is certainly something Arctic Monkeys-esque in the haphazard lyrical that is ‘Deerstalker’, especially as the chorus assures “It’s clear I’m having you all to myself / all to my-y-y-y-y / all to myself”, whilst Jamil’s sinister drumbeat undulates throughout the track. If this drawling lyrical is at all similar to Alex Turner, then it’s his 2009 self – think Humbug era Arctic Monkeys – and not the polished 2013 NME darlings. Somewhat sloppy and homemade, without sounding poorly produced, it’s this quality which makes Black Thistles’ EP a breath of fresh air in a world where indie music sounds increasingly manufactured.
‘Nobody’s Special’ continues this effect, with a melody that’s slow and reflective in the verses, before building in the chorus. The listener feels like they’re a fly on the wall, watching a relationship which sours along with the milk: “the milk’s gone off”. This drawling kitchen lyrical “he’s got hand on your waist / I’m gonna stand on his face / tell him you’re mi-i-i-i-i-i-ine” is an ode to jealousy, to love gone wrong, and undoubtedly wouldn’t be out of place in Jamie T’s earlier catalogue – think ‘Emily’s Heart’.
Emotional brevity, rawness and tongue in cheek lyricism can be found in abundance in this EP from Black Thistles. It’s clear that in spite of their apparent indifference – see the title of the EP if you’re not convinced – Black Thistles want the listener to care and relate to their catchy constructions. And, we do. Giving us a meagre 3 tracks feels like a robbery; we’re tempted to do an Oliver Twist and ask “Please sir, can I have some more?”
Words by Beth Kirkbride