For me, musket is one of those words. It always reminds me of The Decemberists’ ‘The Mariner’s Revenge Song’, for the line “I was getting my musket clean”. I hear the word and, regardless of the context, I hum that line almost automatically.
As an aside, I walk past a van on a daily basis emblazoned with the word Hamblin on the side which makes me also think of the Decemberists’ ‘The Soldiering Life’ and the line “Ambling madly all over the world”. I won’t be lying if I say I chuckle at this on an almost daily basis (it almost certainly makes me look slightly deranged)
Now, these anecdotes are important for two reasons. 1) It proves I am a simple soul, bound by the undemanding pleasures in life, and 2) It makes me ask the question: Are Brit-rocking upstarts Muskets strong enough to break my slightly weird word association..?
First off, the Brighton quartet go about things in absolutely the right way. ‘Spin’ is six songs and 17:30 minutes long. There’s no hanging around; they wanna get straight to business and leave you wanting more. First impressions count, and don’t these guys just know it.
‘Tate Modern’ kicks things off and is a Balance and Composure-lite alt-rock, grunge-tinged anthem. It’s a solid opener. Also I love, and I mean LOVE, the vocals. Duel vocalists and guitarists Alex Cheung and Daniel McKenna complement each other perfectly and the understated growls (if that’s possible) are subtle but add real depth. It’s cleverly done but hugely effective.
‘Scranton’ adds more subtlety to their sound with some dreamy ‘whoo-whoos’, yet it’s the last minute, with some ace duelling vocals, that really stand out. In fact, moments remind me of Hindsights, and that’s never a bad thing.
Both are excellent songs, but neither come close to the brilliance of ‘Lynton Street’. I’m a sucker for overlapping vocals and ‘Lynton Street’ has them galloping out of the speakers at a rate of knots. It’s only 2:30 long but it’s a masterclass in intelligent songwriting and pacing. In fact, it’s a shame that it doesn’t go on longer as it feels slightly truncated. But, as I said before, if it leaves you wanting more, then the EP has done its job and this is a case in point.
‘Colourview’ shows off the group’s skill as musicians, and is a punchy, enjoyable romp. ‘Top Of My Head’, however is probably the weakest of the songs, relying on a repetitious lyrics that don’t really go anywhere. It means it’s left to ‘Drowsy’ to close things out. It’s probably the most powerful songs of the six on offer; switching from downbeat grunge to pumped-up post-hardcore in an instant. Throw in a meaty, sludgy, riff as an outro and you’ve got yourself a hugely confident debut from an incredibly talented bunch.
But does ‘Spin’ have enough about it to force me to throw away my silly musket word association? Well, let’s put it like this, I’m still glad I have amblin/Hamblin to make me smile.
‘Spin’ EP by Muskets is released on 7th August on Venn Records.
Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair)