What’s more tiresome: the number of thinkpieces shouting about the decline of guitar music, or those claiming it’s not dead and it never was? A much more compelling case for the latter continues to pour out of the UK’s DIY scene, where a veritable conveyor belt of talent continues to turn out fantastic band after fantastic band. You want names? Here’s a few: Sauna Youth, Shopping, Martha, The Spook School, Personal Best, Doe… and now Neurotic Fiction are another excellent addition to the list.
While all those bands balance a certain punk-derived outlook (and in some cases velocity) with a decidedly indie approach to melody, they’ve not quite brought the ol’ six-string to the fore to the same extent as this South West-based quartet. Livi Sinclair’s glistening fingerwork is definitely the star performer here – whether turning in a Johnny Marr-esque jangle (‘Generals’), a energetically insistent nag (‘Warm Spirit’) or even a firm thrash at the chords (‘Collateral’), it’s always making its thoroughly welcome presence felt. The latter track in particular boasts some sterling axe wizardry that adds to an addictively shouty chorus, making it patently obvious why that track was chosen as the record’s first single.
That’s not to say it’s all about the guitar. This is pop music, first and foremost, and it oscillates between the taut rhythms of their stated influence The B-52s, the dreamily melodic haze that the likes of Allo Darlin’ once threatened to make their own, and something decidedly gnarlier. The press release claims that the record’s subject matter deals chiefly with ‘not being afraid to take risks … rather than being worried about fucking up’, and indeed there’s a real sense of adventure here that feels like the band still have plenty of territory left to explore.
“Try to keep a focus / While our limbs are being severed from us” goes ‘Loose End’, and it’s easy to think of this as a mantra for the trying times we find ourselves occupying in 2018. Fortunately, ‘Pulp Music’ offers comfort in the face of feelings of derailment, announcing Neurotic Fiction’s arrival with verve and style – this is the beginning of their story, and it’s very promising indeed.
Words: Will Fitzpatrick
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