With blues-rock at the core, stickybackplastics pull in eerie electronica sounds, grunge-y effects and a hint of goth to make the deeply bleak but highly alluring EP, Reptile Smile.
Each track uses different sounds and feelings but it’s always a smooth transition between them. Heather Niven’s beautiful dark voice, Max Watt’s catchy basslines, Roz Walker’s clever combination of riffs with effects and Dom Smith’s powerful, driving drum beats make up the record.
Reptile Smile is the second EP from stickybackplastics, following on from their 2014 self-titled debut. The band are planning to have a third EP out by the end of the year.
On Reptile Smile, there seems to be a strong connection between sound and lyrics on each track. It’s difficult to tell whether the words or the music was crafted first but both come together well to portray the subject matter.
‘Duality of human nature’
Roz said: “Most of these new tracks examine the duality of human nature.” Indeed, they follow such topics as dreaming about killing a partner who you love dearly when you’re awake and the discomfort about having to reject someone in love with you that is a fond friend.
Their single Psycho Dreamer kicks off the EP, with guitar chords backed with reverb, immediately setting up a haunting atmosphere, before dipping into driving bass, a classic drum beat and echoing vocals. Roz’s creative use of guitar effects is the main draw in this goth-blues single, although it’s interesting to hear Heather’s voice take on a demon-like effect as the track moves forward.
It’s a strong starter that contrasts with the next track, Don’t Say That You Love Me, which is scaled back to create a retro blues-rock feel. There’s fewer effects here and a rawer sound.
You Told Me takes the blues-rock vibe and gives it a late 90s alternative rock edge. It’s possibly the most upbeat track on the EP, which by no means makes it cheery, but the music fits well with the lyrics. The words seem to focus on triumphing over someone who keeps trying to put you down.
The final track is Sick Man, an eerie end to the record. It has a slow and steady rhythm that makes the dark subject matter of the words more creepy. The song culminates in an end-of-set-like cacophony of music while the last vocal syllable is drawn out, sounding somewhat crazed.
Reptile Smile, with its melancholy feel, is experimental and carefully constructed. Well worth checking out.