We’re experiencing a time where minimalism is celebrated far too vehemently. Where a beat, and a synthesizer or a basic reverb-soaked guitar hook is good enough for the world to lose their collective minds over tepid mediocrity if it includes a quiet almost whispered vocal.
Where is the musicianship? Where are the ensembles swapping instruments? Where are the singing drummers?
Right bloody here, that’s where. Hello Squid. This is Town Centre an EP in name but a journey around a variety of characters doing mundane things with a film soundtrack in action. On a Tuesday. In somewhere like Slough.
Naturally with anything a little post-punk, a little off kilter, it has been recorded by Dan Carey because you need that kind of brilliance to get all this down on tape and sound great.
This, their debut proper release on Speedy Wunderground, is tantalising. It’s a little tease. Four tracks, an instrumental introduction, three humongous octopod of jazz, post punk, rock, pop tentacles flying off in all directions. It is a massive sea creature that straddles the harbour of what music can be, thwacking tugs of saxophone and yachts of Television angular guitar alike away from the quay like they are it’s play things.
‘Savages’ is moody, like a sulking teenager because it’s parents have taken its amp away for making a racket, starting with what sounds like them tuning up at a soundcheck.
There is a frustrated rage that courses through this record that is in paradox with the joy that comes bouncing out of the speakers. “I’m the cleaner/but you don’t even know my name” Ollie yelps, he sounds bloody furious.
‘Match Bet’ is relatively straightforward for Squid. Beginning with a delicious finger picked guitar, it descends into the frantic chorus of Ollie’s terrified “red wire, blue wire” refrain before the calm restrained antithesis “Match Bet/all the time/racing horses/round my mind”.
‘The Cleaner’ is their magnus opus. I’ll rephrase, it’s their current magnus opus. Seven and a half minutes of schizophrenic pop, one part almost deranged yelling “So I can dance” with the medicated other personality talking him down.
‘Rodeo’ is a Spaghetti Western score. A Morricone for the UK Indie scene, it wouldn’t be out of place in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Strained violin and sombre brass with an understated bass and occasional brash guitar as Clint Eastwood stands in the middle of the street, his fingers twitching by his holster.
They didn’t even put ‘Houseplants’ on it, the guaranteed dance floor filler single from earlier this year. Will it even make the LP scheduled for next year? As great as it is, we don’t miss it.
Town Centre feels like Part One. The intro song, three whoppers to melt your face. Part Two could take it down a notch. Mellow it out. Then set fire to your china again. Exciting.
Alongside the likes of Black Country, New Road, Squid are ploughing a furrow of throwing a huge palette of colour at a canvas but arranging them so there is a picture, abstract and bizarre but beautiful and evocative.