Stratospherically popular indie-pop group The 1975 maintain a valid, if not a necessary link between their name and often nostalgic sound – no such connection is clear in the case of Nineteen Fifty Eight. Despite the valiant efforts of Buddy Holly, it is unlikely that rock’n’roll was even in the dictionary by 1958, and it would be almost another half-century before its evolution arrived at the ever ambiguous ‘alt-rock’ umbrella which encompasses Nineteen Fifty Eight.
Hailing from Swansea, they are the latest in an illustriously long line of bands with their roots in south Wales. Fronted by Ceryn Evans and recently signed to Transcend Music, new EP ‘Dark Blue’ showcases six tracks that most obviously recall the likes of Tonight Alive, Mallory Knox and PVRIS – although the latter’s comparison does not extend to electropop elements, with a referential guitar-driven template favoured.
Evans exudes calm and character throughout, but her voice somewhat lacks colour. One can only imagine what a youthful Hayley Williams would have done with the ‘woah’s of ‘Watch Me Burn’; the band would benefit from writing several keys higher, and Evans in turn from pushing her pipes that bit harder.
That said, both she and Nineteen Fifty Eight show no shortage of promise. ‘Under My Skin’ combines heavily layered instrumentation with simple melody to slick effect, and the slow-burning ‘Temporary Feelings’ is superbly dynamic, gauging its climactic outro perfectly.
The opening title track is brimming with the sort of verve that should make it a shoe-in for also starting off live shows, while its basic hook will linger longer than most. It has enough poise to suggest that the ever-glaring lack of female-fronted acts at the top may be about to lessen.
‘Dark Blue’ may not be the release that sends Nineteen Fifty Eight skyward, but it certainly finds them in the ascendency. By the time an LP and festival slots come round, they may already be topping ‘Ones To Watch’ lists across the land, with this EP an important indication of things to come.
‘Dark Blue’ EP by Nineteen Fifty Eight is out now on Transcend Music.
Words by Peter Stewart (@PeteStew_)