During the period when guitars were still the pre-eminent weapon of choice for teenagers wanting to start a band – we’re talking mid-noughties here – the most commonly referenced inspiration was Oasis , paragons of unvirtue that combined hubris and muscle in a package which said urchins could still shake a tambourine and then marry a supermodel.
Since their acrimonious demise however, new bands have tended to look further afield for their muse, from the gloomy post punk of Joy Division to the slacker drawl of Pavement and Dinosaur Jr.
Hardly exotic choices true, but a recent trickle of outfits have gone one step further, channelling intensity and melodrama into a furious brew that echoes the chilly phantasms of the early eighties underground.
We already know about Leeds’ Eagulls and Autobahn; now step forward Sheffield trio Sievehead.
Awkwardly named yes, and the histories and past allegiances of Jo, singer Dave and Bry are as much to US skater grips and West Coast hardcore, but their cacophony bubbles with the same manic energy and commitment as their cohorts from just up the M1. There’s also something perhaps deliberately ambiguous about a title like ‘Into The Blue‘, but from the raking first moments of opener ‘No Grapes‘ any confusion gives way to the sensation of being taken on a white knuckle ride, guitars scattering all before them in a bleak procession. It’s a song the band have said is about honouring your mistakes in order to avoid repeating them again, although given Dave’s stentorian pipes – think somewhere between Ian Astbury and Robert Smith – it’s true meaning remains slightly earthed.
Their approach takes ‘Into The Blue’ into minefields of intensity, the tortured angst of ‘Try The Mirror‘, ‘building blocks of life destroyed, we’re all to blame’, and the precision drone of ‘Hoax‘ – the latter with a vocal performance seemingly exhumed from the other side – possibly counting as one of the most complete and satisfying rejections of pop music in recent years.
Born out of Sheffield’s close-knit but family-like scene – centered around co-op venue The Lughole – the threesome bottle up the paranoia and enervating pressure of modern life, occasionally spitting out something made for those outside what is surely going to be a large future cabal of obsessive fans. ‘Into The Blue’s title track is such a moment, a pithy moment of alt.normality, whilst ‘Dream Snatchers‘ is a sketchy amalgam of orthodox punk rock and knife edge riffing, the last few seconds of an almost solo the barest nod to ostentation.
The switch, a doppelganger, is their secret weapon; instruments on lockdown, treated as ciphers, whilst the words are sung into the deep, the combination revealing both form and spirit, a feral howl which makes Sievehead’s music for both the head and the heart attack.
No pale facsimile of our recent past, ‘Into The Blue’s primal funk charges head first into a moment of its own making.