EP Review: Shamu's Debut EP
Since first encountering Newcastle band Shamu at a quirky in-store performance at Urban Outfitters, I have been absolutely hooked on their powerful electro-rock that is overlaid with beautifully thoughtful lyrics.
With cleverly crafted tracks like ‘Where to Land’ and ‘The Sorry Window’ having been firm favourites of mine since their release last year, there have been countless occasions when I found myself utterly lost and emotionally shook while grooving to the unpredictable rise and fall of guitar, drum and synth melodies.
And this feeling only heightens when experienced live thanks to the bands uninhibited and engaging performances on stage.
So, of course, I was over the moon to hear that the now four-piece had spent the last few months working hard on their debut EP and thus setting my anticipations very high indeed to be one of my top releases of 2018.
The self-titled EP is due for release on the 20th of July and features 5 tracks, including Shamu’s latest release and collaboration with Newcastle rapper Sagaboi ‘Up in Arms’, recorded at The Grain Studios in Newcastle by fabulous producer James Haselhurst.
The EP opens however with new track ‘Pit Pony’ which delivers everything that we’ve come to love about Shamu. A subtle intro of glistening guitar tones which are elevated step by step as layers of drums and electronic sounds are added over its course to create a swirling musical backdrop for the heartbreakingly solemn portrayal of a lonely and lost soul – delivered with raw emotion by front man Jonathan in a way only he can.
A dream-like Interlude named ‘Bend’ follows suit to sooth with its twirling guitars and comforting drum rhythms, not unlike a refreshing oasis, and perfectly leads into the aforementioned track ‘Up In Arms’ that was released in April this year.
Still as powerful and pertinent in its message to speak up and take action against the wrongs of the world, Shamu really show their wide-reaching influences and adaptability here.
In keeping with their trademark rainbow of sounds and seductive sequence of tempos ‘Up in Arms’ takes you on another entrancing soundscape journey, but this time effortlessly guiding you to a perfectly formed platform for Sagaboi’s razor-sharp delivery of hard-hitting truths. It’s a perfect medley that has earned its place as a proud centrepiece of this EP.
With passions flying high, a second Interlude aptly named ‘Break’, provides another striking instrumental composition that gently drifts along with its many curiously comforting sounds alongside steady beats and riffs.
Any tensions are now soothed in preparation for the final track ‘Letting Go’, which also proves to be the biggest grower out of the lot.
Intricate drum rhythms initially peak an interest until the tempo and vocal urgency steadily rise into a rousing chorus that seemingly dances around a precarious cliff edge in this dramatic tale of heartbreak. But each time, just as feverish tempos and impulses are about to overflow, the song returns to a beautiful calmness of guitars and beats to create a metaphoric safe haven.
A perfect conclusion to this unashamedly heart-felt and sound-exploring assembly of tracks.
I whole-heartedly applaud Shamu for their unique style in creating something that is so sincere and personal without the need to conform to anything already out there.
It truly opens up electronic music for the masses without the need to be pompous, or the use of clichéd catchy refrains; instead taking the form of an endeavour to mould a multitude of different styles and sounds into something truly heart-felt and melodic to simply lose yourself in – I most certainly have and will for many listens to come.
The EP release also coincides with the band’s performance at the Cluny 2 in Newcastle as part of the Northern Electrical Festival which takes place on the 20th and 21st of June, and as special treat anyone who buys a ticket in advanced will receive a download of the EP in full. An absolute win-win given the fantastic line-up of the festival as a whole as well!
For anyone unable to make it along for the festival, the EP will be available on its day of release this Friday on all good music media and streaming sites.