Eagulls’ self-titled debut is the result of four years hard work, following a string of EPs and 7” singles. The band formed in 2010 at Leeds University, where four of the members studied. The band were stuck practicing instrumentally in a basement, until, in true punk rock fashion, drummer Henry Ruddell invited his old friend George Mitchell to join in spite of the band not knowing whether he could sing.
Eagulls begins with ‘Nerve Endings’, the band’s first single on label Partisan. Heavily distorted guitar lines weave in and out of one another, supporting the pounding rhythm section. Mitchell’s vocals sound genuinely agonised, in the region between singing, wailing and shouting as he protests “my nerve endings won’t die”.
At times, the band channel PiL and fellow Leeds punk group Gang of Four with their urgent punk, albeit interspersed with jangly guitar reminiscent of The Stone Roses or The Skids. The rapid build up to anthemic choruses (which tend to revolve around repetition of the song titles) makes for catchy punk that’s sure to be a hit with crowds in mosh pits, but means that repeat listens don’t offer much more than the first.
‘Tough Luck’ and ‘Possessed’ stand out in the middle of the album, the former a bruising song which “originated from a poem [Mitchell] wrote about [his]Granddad’s webbed feet titled Thalidomide Poem… The song is portraying the gamble of trusting in something without knowing the consequences. Touch Wood, everything will be fine. But then tough luck, sadly your gamble left you with misfortune”. The latter is a highlight of the album, Mitchell’s wails of “I’m possessed” are layered atop siren-like guitar and a chuntering bassline to create three minutes of the archetypal Eagulls sound.
Lyrically, Eagulls’ topics range from heroin users (‘Amber Veins’) to people they work with getting away with sexual assault (‘Opaque’) via broken dreams (‘Hollow Visions’). Eagulls are pissed off, and they want you to know it. Writing after they clock off from their full-time day jobs, the band have every right to be disgruntled at their surroundings, and transfer this disillusionment into their music.
Eagulls stick to a pretty rigid formula for their music, so listening from start to finish can seem a bit of a chore. Unfortunately, this means that the final few tracks start to require a bit of effort to enjoy, despite the fact that they are some of the best. Penultimate track ‘Opaque’ is a concentrated dose of vitriol set amongst Buzzcocks-esque instrumentation, and closer ‘Soulless Youth’ begins with pulsating bass and stuttering drums, growing into familiar territory for the verses and chorus, guitars chopping and drums pounding under Mitchell’s wails.
Overall, the band have produced a fine debut album, which is refreshing even if it is formulaic at times. Whilst the likes of White Lies and The Horrors look to emulate Joy Division or The Cure, Eagulls breathe some unapologetically angry life back into the current post-punk scene. Eagulls is a solid, blistering debut that doesn’t disappoint.
Eagulls is released on March 3rd on Partisan.