By Michaela Barton (@lowkeypigeon)
Aberdeen may not be well-known for producing dozens of successful musical artists (Annie Lennox is the only recognisable name after a quick Google search). However, that hasn’t discouraged new indie, 80’s rock inspired band Black Tiles from releasing their first EP: In Forever.
The band list artists like Joy Division and Cocteau Twins as influences, which can occasionally be heard through distorted guitar styles although there’s an undercurrent of garage rock present, also. In addition to this, their influence from Wolf Alice is evident from lead singer Tilly O’Connor’s vocals.
Throughout the EP, O’Connor’s soft, ethereal voice wafts through hazy guitar licks, adopting an edge when needing to compete against mounting guitar riffs. Unfortunately, her voice is often lost behind the dominant instrumentals, which is a shame as her vocals are engaging and give an intimate-sounding character to tracks.
The track Frequencies enchants the listener upon first note, with steely crisp and intricate guitar, which soon retreats into a wall of sound with lively drums and an animated bassline. The track is about being haunted by songs, unable to avoid being reminded of a love interest in every melody on the radio. “Feels like every song is about you, and I guess this one will be too, who knew?” is sung with a self-aware, wry laugh. The conversational and often realistically blunt lyrics are a strong element and will likely let Black Tiles stand out from bands with wishy-washy lyrics written by emo sad boys who don’t realise their self-indulgent love songs are the musical equivalent of a crusty sock.
An occasional layered effect with vocals offers a haunting, yearning beauty that matches the lyrical content in Frequencies; however, this plus is soon buried under the instrumentals again. Some rhythmic and production moments on this track seem to collapse, giving a live performance feel rather than the tightly structured and balanced volume standard most recordings go for. Although this does give a more raw sound which can be enjoyable, it can also be reminiscent of high school bands getting carried away at a battle of the bands’ type performance.
In Forever is a lively track that builds energy from the introductory bass countdown to the burst of clattering symbols and roaring guitar. “Our dreams are not the same, but I’d like to waste my time with you every day, forever.” This song will certainly be one that plays well live seeing that it’s impossible to listen without rhythmically moving some part of yourself along to the beat. The melody adopts this carefree, reckless attitude, projecting a fun “fuck it” feel.
The sound is fresh-faced and young but not simple or naïve. Although some songs can easily be the soundtrack for any generic teen in revolt, musically there is maturity with themes interesting enough to engage listeners who grew out of their rebel-without-a-cause stage. Black Tiles show promise to develop into a strong band and are certainly one that people should keep an eye on.