I’ve already championed The Creases in my live review when they supported Jake Bugg, so suffice to say, I’ve been following them closely to see what their output would be like. After their debut single I Won’t Wait, a simple yet classic garage pop gem that rocketed out of Brisbane late 2013, we are greeted with the Gradient – EP, a five track instruction manual on how to create fresh and invigorating indie rock.
It may be true that The Creases have a style indebted to the musical past, but opener Static Lines proves to be one of the most exciting and original takes on the standard garage rock formula. Despite a four minute running time, the track seems to effortlessly chug along with the help of skillful percussion. A melodic bass pattern keeps the song on its toes, while churning and swirling guitars contribute to the subtle melancholia of the song. Singer/guitarist Joe Agius spits the tale of a pair of doomed lovers, with just enough vocal detachment to appear undeniably cool and in control. Structurally, Static Lines is also a bit of an adventure, featuring spiraling verses that lead to elevating and infectious choruses, before choosing to bow out with a vicious instrumental and vocal outro. In one word. Terrific.
How Long ‘Til I Know draws inspiration from shoegaze heavy-weights Ride, My Bloody Valentine, and even Primary Colours-era Horrors with its layered guitar sheets and screeching lead riff, trying to emulate a synth. One of the more dense tracks on the EP, How Long ‘Til I Know truly blossoms with the addition of female backing singers, showcasing the surprising diversity of The Creases. Fall Guy sees guitarist/singer Jarrod Mahon taking lead vocal duties, lending a cleaner and more emotional tone through his plaintive expression. Fall Guy also proves to be the most evocative song of the EP, with the simple chorus perfectly complimenting the poignant instrumentation and chord progression. A moving love song, Fall Guy still manages to stand out as one of the finest examples of electrified heartfelt expression, and one that Robert Smith would be proud to call his own.
Do You Know Why is a brief and relatively basic up-tempo garage pop rush of adrenalin that may not have the staying power of the earlier tracks, but has enough pop savvy to stay imprinted in peoples heads. This pop intelligence is no accident by the way, for this is a band with one of their main cover songs being the 1990s power pop anthem She’s So High by Tal Bachman. They’ve done their research. The closing track Gradient is a fitting epic that is a non-stop cavalcade of shattering guitar, melodic riffs, and motorik rhythms. The lead solo during the breakdown is one of the EP’s finest moments, showcasing the skill and master song craft that The Creases undoubtedly have. And after that blistering finale, it’s all over, and then you realise that it was only 18 minutes, so you give it enough spin. Indeed the only real disappointment of the Gradient – EP is that there isn’t more of it! But that is of little matter, as these songs demand countless revisions and listens.
The Creases are at the stage in their career where the world is still a wide place and full of possibilities. As such, some of the simplistic lyricism can be forgiven, with most of it coming across as endearing. What cannot be denied however is the sheer enjoyability of this EP, with hummable hooks and stunning instrumentation gracing each song. The Creases are one of the finest new talents on the alternative music scene, and deserve great things. Looking forward to a full length LP now!