Tangled Hair - Apples
Tangled Hair are a welcome respite from the crowd of Kinsella copyists that you’ll encounter drifting in the undertow of the British math-rock circuit. The trio deliver coruscating songs that flicker with imagination: crisp guitar tones contorting around erratic rhythms, infused with nods to jazz and the brazen American indie of bands in the vein of Pavement. Their debut release Apples musters enough wit and invention to fill repeated listens and promise great things for the Kingston three-piece.
Formed of refugees from the now-defunct Colour, Tangled Hair pick up where the much-lauded quintet left off. Punctuating their melodic pop with frantic percussive amendments and constantly shifting meters, the group are incorrigible in their intent to pull traditional songwriting apart at the seams. Opening song ‘I’m Calmer Than You Are’ begins as it means to go on with collective screams before careering through four minutes of bustling activity. The song eventually concedes to an enthralling dance-off between guitarist Alan Welsh’s fret-tapping and the throbbing stomp of the rhythm section in a moment that harks back to when Minus The Bear were still fun.
‘Daylight #1’ is another able demonstration of their talents and begins with a delicate picked guitar part owing more to Radiohead than Rodan. It soon sinks into an irresistible groove buoyed by a slinking bassline and unfurls into the sort of dreamy jam that seems to have plucked straight out of the practice room and onto record; an endearing reminder of the grassroots nature of the group amid the calculated and chaotic time signatures of the EP.
Welsh, who also handles vocal duties, plays with the pompous nature inherent in math rock with his lyrics. An infant-like simplicity adorns his words, and contrast knowingly with the clever finesse required of those chopping time signatures and adventuring guitar lines. Simplistic phrasings like the ‘Campfires’ refrain of “…until your pillow cries” and indeed the EP title are testament to the quiet humour underlying the music. And that is a rare thing in a genre twinned with ideas of grandeur and brimming with bands basking in their wondrous technical proficiency: if you can find a seed of humour in the overblown midsts of Tortoise or Slint then you’re a more attentive listener than this writer can ever dream of being.
Such is the unrelenting energy and dynamism of Tangled Hair that you’d be forgiven for taking the band as verbatim when they sing: “I’m wound up like a spring.” There is a lot to get to grips with on this twenty minute taster and those swayed by the spiralling turns of Apples will be waiting with baited breath for the trio’s next move. Exhilarating stuff.
Review originally printed in The 405 online magazine.