Review by Finlay Harris
The trend of using “grunge” to describe any band with plaid shirts and loud Fender Jazzmasters is not a new one. Strathclyde-based quartet Codist have had this albatross of a genre descriptor thrust on them a few times, which seems unfair when their influences delve a little deeper – and a little more recently – into the void of “alternative rock”: the current Western Massachusetts sounds of Speedy Ortiz and Pile alongside noisy stalwarts Yo La Tengo and Dinosaur Jr. And sure, there are stylistic similarities to more directly Nirvana-influenced bands such as fellow Scots The Xcerts, but the strength of the song writing on Codist’s new EP ‘Loverscruff’ overshadows the lazy namedropping and shameless pigeonholing that I have used so far in this review.
Loverscruff begins with the previously released ‘Automobiles’. Opening with thundering drums and a guitar part held together by tight buzzing distortion, the song soon breaks through to a full-band gallop. Vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Philip has a fed-up but melodic delivery; his Scottish accent is refreshingly present but not forced, wavering between apathetic resignation and soaring upheaval. ‘Automobiles’ packs a lot of this kind of variation without the sub-four minute song ever feeling crowded.
‘Melted Painting’ is similar in its variation, slithering between creeping guitars, carefree riffs, and sarcastic verbal digs. This far into Loverscruff it is clear that if there is one thing Codist do well, it is switching effortlessly between moods in single songs. Uneasy melodies are resolved with catchy choruses and poppier moments are taken down a peg with crashing instrumental freak-outs.
Despite being the middle child of Loverscruff’s three tracks, ‘Melted Painting’ holds its own by combining dark frustrated verses (“I let you deal with your problems ’cause they’re fucking absurd”) with an accessible but snarky chorus (“I might come back tomorrow evening, But I probably won’t” – surely the best and funniest lyric on the whole EP).
The energetic harmonised “uh-oh” chants that open ‘Bleach’ are bound to be a hit with the kids. Codist resolve this pop-tacular-ness with Philip’s almost deadpan delivery greeting us with proclamations like “my mouth is filled with bleach”. At the launch show for Loverscruff, Codist closed with this song, and it’s easy to see why. While “anthem” is perhaps too strong a word for a song with a less-than-uplifting subject matter, the defiant chorus makes it clear that Codist are capable of unleashing a pure pop defence whenever someone throws lazy comparisons at them. It’s probably a fair criticism to say that Codist are doing something that a lot of other bands are doing, but they do it so well that it’s hardly worth mentioning.
Loverscruff is available for whatever you wish to pay from Codist’s Bandcamp page (codist.bandcamp.com), as are their two previous releases (also worth checking out).document.currentScript.parentNode.insertBefore(s, document.currentScript);