EP: wormboys – ‘smalltime’

Infused with the intense vulnerability they are fast becoming known for, smalltime is the latest EP from wormboys. The Leeds-based four-piece have a distinct sound that mixes an eccentric mashup of genres into a unique experimental style. The EP is made up of three tracks – ‘something pretty’, ‘worm’ and ‘tree’.

something pretty’ kicks off with a solid rhythm; the throbbing bass riff and steady drum beat settle in before the screaming guitar leaps in over the top. Higher pitched vocals ring clear above the growling combination of drums and strings, whilst the vocals wail over the grungy, fuzzy music – a howling tribute to queer hedonism. The lyrics and instruments blend in a way that swirls and flows, evoking smoke and glowsticks and swaying movements that aren’t quite balanced, but aren’t quite ready to topple over either. The track draws you into the intoxicating moment it depicts, then spits you out at the other end wishing for it back.

The next track, ‘worm’, is softer; low strings twinkle gently over a subtler beat. The little tune is almost mournful as deeper vocals carry the lyrics, soft and low, drifting like mist. A second vocal – higher, this time – highlights the melody in a distant, ghostly cry whilst in the background there are crackles that almost sound as if there might be something wrong with your speaker. They ramp up as the song gathers energy into a raw, powerful wail of guitar. Upon a repeat listen, those early crackles are wonderfully foreboding. The combination of the soft vocals and the guitars sound like a trapped scream, as it needles into your head with its fierce sense of neurosis and paranoia. This is a great track for showing off the band’s experimental side, using homemade pedals to create a unique distortion on the strings – it is distinctly wormboys, blasting the honest emotion already at the core of their sound.

Finally, we reach ‘tree’, which chugs to a throbbing start that echoes the distorted crackle of the last track, then drifts into a fuller, rounder tune. It has brighter chords and a simple but catchy riff played over strings that dance around each other. Although it couldn’t be called cheerful, the opening bars are misleadingly bouncy. When the vocals kick in, they are pained, ripping through the false pep and thrusting the feeling into the song – if it didn’t fit so perfectly with the rest of the track, you might imagine the vocal line is unprepared. It sounds spontaneous, spilling out all the pain without plan or direction. The music drops away to let the outburst shine, leaving a sense of isolation in the verses until the instruments leap back in for chorus with a harder punch.

As a whole, smalltime combines three exciting tracks to create a fantastic platform to launch wormboys into the next stage of their career. The EP shows off a huge range of skill in just three short tracks, showing off both a mastery of popular styles as well as an undeniable talent for creating altogether new sounds. 

Kirstie Summers

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