Evans the Death
Fortuna POP! – LP/CD/DL
2 March 2015
Evans the Death return with their second album Expect Delays in March via Fortuna POP! (Europe) and Slumberland (USA). Recorded again with producer Rory Atwell, the album bristles with an underlying tension and veers from rip-roaring noise to quiet contemplation, underpinned by Katherine Whitaker’s extraordinary voice.
Still barely out of their teens, there’s a tremendous sense across Expect Delays of a band coming into their own, honing a plethora of influences to make a sound that is uniquely them. Each song on the album has a different feel to it: some of them are melodic and pretty; some of them heavy and dissonant; and some of them are, to quote guitarist Dan Moss, “a bit strange”. While retaining the post-punk and 90s alt-rock inspired elements that peppered their debut, the music is more expressive, heavier and more experimental, and the lyrics more nuanced, the sense of despair leavened by sharp wordplay and humour.
The unsettling undercurrent of melancholy and hopelessness that pervades the record has its roots in the last three years, spent eking out an existence on the poverty line in Cameron’s Britain, leaving them with a succession of minimum-wage jobs and unemployment benefits interviews. As guitarist Dan Moss relates, the album is about “being in London and feeling hopeless and a bit lost. Not having any money, relationships falling apart, things just not connecting or going anywhere and getting absolutely wasted all the time.”
Named after the undertaker in Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood, the band’s 2012 self-titled inaugural album saw critical acclaim from the likes of Q, Uncut and Artrocker, as well as radio play on BBC Radio 1, BBC 6Music and XFM. After a change in line-up following the release of their debut, the band regrouped around the core of brothers Dan and Olly Moss and singer Katherine Whitaker for the recording of Expect Delays. Drummer James Burkitt was recruited from Leeds’ band The ABC Club to complete a taut new four-piece.
More ambitious and focused than their previous record, whilst sacrificing none of their spontaneity and vitality, Expect Delays is a supremely inventive and intelligently crafted album from a band who have suffered for their art, and used that experience to inform and nourish their work. Expect no more delays, Evans the Death have arrived.
"A beautiful exorcism of weird noise pop." NME 8/10
"Expect Delays is sensational; a beguiling enigma, as street-tough as it is sophisticated." The Skinny 4/5
"A beautiful sprawling mess." Collapse Board
"The grittier end of post punk and fuzzed-up 90s alt. rock... bruised vitality and pleasing lyrical spikiness." Uncut
“Evans the Death manage to make humdrum everyday existence seem quite magical” Q ****
“A wonderful marriage of converse elements elegantly crafted into its own neat mess.” Artrocker *****
Evans the Death
Vanilla - Fortuna POP! - 10 June
London five piece Evans the Death return with Vanilla, their most ambitious and experimental album to date, eschewing the more traditional pop structures and hooks of their first two albums, 2012’s self-titled debut and 2015’s critically acclaimed Expect Delays. While Expect Delays was a step towards something more collaborative, experimental and abrasive - a bleak, introspective album that still retained a pop sensibility - Vanilla sees the band veer in an ever more adventurous direction: more aggressive, extroverted and raw.
Named after the undertaker in Dylan Thomas’ radio play, Under Milk Wood, the band was formed by brothers Dan and Olly Moss after meeting singer Katherine Whitaker at a Let’s Wrestle show. After numerous line-ups, the band is now completed by James Burkitt on drums and Daniel Raphael on bass. The new album was recorded at Lightship95 in London with producer Rory Attwell, who worked on both of their previous records. Highly erratic in style and mood, brimming with extreme contrasts, from noisy to funky to melodic, energetic to dejected, full of chaos and restlessness, the album was the result of a carefully planned recording strategy, as Dan Moss explains:
“We deliberately booked very little time in the studio, and we pretty much did everything live, together in the room – there was no trying to fix any mistakes. What you hear is very close to what we did in that moment – so technically, while it isn’t overly polished or slick, it’s a very high fidelity recording – an accurate reproduction of the original source. I think that gives it more of an urgency and honesty than the first two. We decided to limit ourselves to 8 tracks and this meant we were restricted in how much we could alter things after recording, and the amount of overdubs we could do – which is what we wanted.”
Vanilla bounces wildly between styles, lending a real energy and vitality to the flow of the album. There’s the psychedelic snarl of “Haunted Wheelchair” which is built around dissonant, ominous, jazz-like chords, creating a sense of dread and paranoia but also a strange excitement. Dan explains: “I wasn’t getting enough sleep. Then before recording the song, while on my way to a party I got assaulted out of the blue, and I had to have surgery for a broken jaw. I used that incident to hang the lyrics on, but really it’s about that strange feeling I was already having anyway.”
There’s also “Suitcase Jimmy”, a semi-improvised portrait of a fictional down-at-heel actor built around a Wilko Johnson-ish guitar part. “Hey! Buddy” is an “unintentionally mean-spirited” askew pop tune from the point of view of a cloying and over-zealous fan of the band. And the brassy wartime dancehall of “Cable St. Blues” is an odd duet between two parts of the psyche, representing “an argument you have with yourself, about depression and extreme self-criticism and self-doubt, struggling to function”, and named after the site of the 1936 riots where the band wrote the album. “I wanted the end to sound like a New Orleans jazz funeral”, says Dan.
Newest member Daniel Raphael’s present to the band, “Hot Sauce”, is led by a groovy, capacious bassline, while Olly’s “Armchair Theatre”, the quietest, prettiest song on the record, starts out like a soft rock classic and turns in to a gorgeously mournful song with the lyric, “I took you to the park / kickin’ through used Johnnies and dry leaves”. Meanwhile, “Welcome to Usk” draws on Ennio Morricone’s Spaghetti Western soundtracks and parts of Vivian Kubrick’s score for Full Metal Jacket, with a thumping disco section thrown in for good measure. “When we first got this song right I got so excited I threw up my dinner”, says Dan. “It has three different time signatures!”
A dark, howling, ragged storm of an album, resisting categorisation, Vanilla is anything but – a far cry from the bland, unimaginative music that pervades the airwaves. It is a brittle, brilliant new chapter in the story of a band who never fail to surprise.