Released via their own label Cool Thing Records, a strong sense of fun and frustration fuels Southend-based rockers Asylums‘ brand new album, Alien Human Emotions. The band’s second record is a turbulent, tenacious collection of tracks that buzz with enthusiasm and self-awareness.
After the success of their critically-acclaimed debut Killer Brain Waves in 2016, Asylums have embarked on a new aural adventure. If they were presented differently, the tracks on Alien Human Emotions would shrink your heart with sadness, but the band’s riotous delivery makes this record a hopeful, heart-swelling affair.
The album kicks off with ‘Day Release To The Moon’, documenting a grand, but turbulent emotional journey that will “pull us closer to the sun / annihilate everyone,” with Jazz’s manic guitar riffs masking the dark side of vocalist Luke’s pessimistic wish. Henry’s relentless percussion punches through on second track ‘When We Wake Up’, which assaults the senses from start to finish. Luke’s anthemic lyrics invite listeners to take a “front row seat for Armageddon,” which sounds tempting against their back drop of manic guitar noise. ‘Bottle Bank’ follows with more of Jazz’s trademark spiralling riffs and Mike’s thundering bass lines, leaving listeners sweaty and short of breath just three tracks in.
The eponymous ‘Alien Human Emotions’ comprehends emotional black holes via dense bass lines and thoughtful lyrics, before the gentler ‘Millennials’ provides a moment for introspective reflection. Named after a social label that’s doused in negativity, Asylums have reclaimed the term and turned it into a thought provoking, comforting tune.
Just as listeners are on their way back down to earth, the toxic punk blur of ‘Napalm Bubblegum’ blasts them back into the band’s sonic atmosphere. Luke’s visceral Essex intonation and Henry’s savage drumming provide the ultimate punk-infused sound to bounce around your bedroom walls to. ‘Pause’ is an aptly named interlude track – even Asylums need to take a second to catch their breath sometimes.
‘Graveyard Tourism’ is a distraction from “morbid fascination”, whilst the timely ‘Homeowners Guilt’ dissects feelings towards “characterless buildings” and the unfair working-class reality of having to always make sure ends meet. The penultimate ‘Sexual Automation’ starts the gentle descent down to earth, manically resisting the “impulses you can’t castrate.” The rawness of ‘The Company You Keep’ closes the record on an optimistic note – an ode to true love, friendship and a poignant reminder to appreciate the people around you.
Alien in the sense that it blasts you into an sonic universe, but Human in its quest to make sure no listener feels left behind, Asylums’ Alien Human Emotions is an intense, joyful second record that kicks and comforts in equal measure.
Photo Credit: Kana Waiwaiku