The band members of The Goa Express looking at the camera
Credit: Cal Moores

The Goa Express – The Goa Express

The Goa Express are brothers James Douglas Clarke (Guitar + Vocals) and Joe Clarke (Keys), along with Joey Stein (Lead Guitar), Naham Muzaffar (Bass) and Sam Launder (Drums). Growing up in Burnley, their bond was forged long before the band existed. Their shared adolescent experiences shaped their collective friendships, and the sound of their band. Now the five-piece release their self titled debut album via Communion and its an expression of this friendship. Ocean Colour Scene’s Damon Minchella pairs with Tom Manning on production duties, with the band shifting to the Welsh village of Raglan to record the album.

Honey‘ opens the album and takes us to a place of scuzzy joy. Full of zest and life the guitars lead the way with the music simply oozing happiness. On latest single ‘It’s Never Been Better‘ the optimism continues. Nostalgia for summers spent together, its manages to convey this in its soundscape. A talent in itself. The band expand:

“‘It’s Never Been Better’ existed for many years as a home demo on GarageBand. Reinvigorated in the studio, the song is a match made in heaven for the summer months and reminds us of the moments we used to spend together with those who ended up going different ways.”

The guitars lead the way on ‘Good Luck Charm’ with infectious hooks and an up tempo beat layered with the frantic drums. There is a hint of static now and again, taking the track to the edge but not tipping over. This is earworm material with its catchy chorus, and that beat never slows – rushing along to the final note.

Shortest track on the album ‘You’re The Girl’ is a gem. Fast and furious it’s a 2-minute love song and one of the highlights on the album. It’s followed by the longest song on the album ‘Small Talk’ with its opening riff which is reminiscent of The Stone Roses. Opening calmly enough the youthful exuberance is not held back for long. And there are nuggets of reminders on just how to hang on to adolescence in these turbulent times:
“Last night, did you watch the news?
No I didn’t, got better things to do.”

Can’t Stay Quiet‘ begins calmly and quietly, but as the title suggests, it can’t stay quiet for long. This album is dripping with playful rhythms, but boy oh boy those hooks. Track after track provides tight musicianship which somehow appears effortless but of course that is the skill and unity of The Goa Express. ‘Better Than OK‘ again rattles along, with its introspective lyrics combining with the soundscape to create track that canters along, acknowledging that: “all these things make me feel something. I’m not numb”.

Talking About Stuff‘ is what friends do. Perhaps the calmest track on the album nonetheless it’s still vibrant and uplifting. It’s full of appreciation for their friendship and the connections they have which is a thread which runs through the album.

Portrait‘ is another highlight. The wall of sound is soaring and the pace is punchy and contagious. Live this will have the whole crowd dancing. Furious and fun – a lethal combination which, guaranteed will leave the crowd clamouring for more. The reflective ‘Prove It’ closes out the album, the most reflective and emotional track on it. Its power strikes at the very gut with its raw honesty. The shift in pace is just utterly beguiling, with the steady drumbeat adding to the atmosphere. The rest of the album is an expression of the joy of youth however ‘Portrait‘ shares some of the pain, conveyed not just in the lyrics but in the instrumentation too. It’s the perfect close to this debut by The Goa Express and it seems only fitting that the outro is a fade out with jaggy guitars, chatter in the background – and is that the sound of a needle on a record?

For more information on The Goa Express please check out their facebook and instagram.


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