By name, Estrons sound like they ought to be a legion of sci-fi antagonists, making life difficult for Doctor Who, Captain Kirk or Captain Scarlet. You wouldn’t be surprised, either, if your GP prescribed you something called ‘estrons’ for excessive cholesterol or dodgy blood pressure. In more prosaic reality, they may well be earth-bound alt-rockers from Wales, but they do, in many ways, present themselves as a challenge to the mundane and everyday. They’re not out of this world, but for the duration of You Say I’m Too Much, I Say You’re Not Enough, they will take us to a better place.
If someone manages to make Trainspotting 3 before the two Ewans (McGregor and Bremner) become incapable of convincingly outrunning a store detective, then album opener, ‘Lilac’ would be a wonderfully propulsive start to that soundtrack. It feels like it hurtles more and more recklessly every time we hear the refrain, “Gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme more…” By the final song, ‘Drop’, we’re back in bass- driven frenzy. There’s a splendid structure to the album as a whole, one that would make for a mighty live set played through chronologically.
As the album title suggests, there’s a lot of deliberation on self-perception and how others can define us. Do we enact the identities that others seek for us, or are we brave enough to resist? There seems to be a stream of disappointing or controlling addressees, all of whom are given what for, such as in ‘Killing Your Love’ with “You treat your heart like a revolving door,” yet there’s also a sense that love is weird and people in love are even more vulnerable and enfeebled, with “I could never find the power to leave” in ‘Strangers’ or “Change your mind, your body, your time,” in ‘Jade’.
Refreshingly, then, Estrons take us beyond the doubt and through to the other side. There’s a profound middle finger to those who build themselves up by making others feel inadequate on ‘Aliens’ (which is not far from what ‘Estrons’ means in Welsh). This is the track that contains the album’s title. It starts with a wistful, swooning bed of Cranberries chords, like a slowie from the equally verbosely-titled, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We, but then the Royal Blood/Honeyblood heaviness kicks in. ‘Make a Man’ offers to turn the tedious archetype of a ‘man’ into a real man by prolonged exposure to an authoritative woman.
The screams of Tali Källstrom, like at the end of ‘Make a Man’, connect primally with that feral part of us that speaks to our inner child, or even that little bit of our adult selves that, deep down, refuses to be tamed, domesticated, civilized. They do offer a pleasant blast off, away from the hectic and humdrum of the day-to-day into a more pleasingly hectic temporary universe. And if your GP prescribed you this album, you ought to be even more grateful for the NHS than you already are.
You Say I’m Too Much, I Say You’re Not Enough is our now on The Orchard/Gofod Records