I guess the debut EP is a band’s first chance to lay out their identity for everybody’s scrutiny, and Great EP is Sex Helicopter’s offering in this way, released late last month. The group consists of five Angelenos and while they still sound as though they’re figuring themselves out, I would definitely slot them in the bracket of “has potential”.
The opening track, Everything As It Should Be, is a frenzied, pacey insight into a psychedelic sound – sharp guitars and tight drums combine before you’re showered in synth in the chorus. While it is an energetic opening, it does come across as a bit messy in patches – there’s something in the whole record that confirms this band as debutants, a little bit of inexperience perhaps or maybe it’s just their way of doing things.
Kaleidoscope is the second track, and while this certainly has a name more appropriate for the sounds of the opener, this track is a bit more upbeat; you could imagine this playing over some poignant moment of triumph in a coming-of-age indie flick. This is something of a precursor to how the sound will change over the course of the EP, and personally I think this is the direction the group should head in as they have more of a substantial sound, more personality in this than the first track.
As alluded to before, there does some to be some kind of identity ambiguity to this release; as the EP goes on, the style changes to a more hardened sound – imagine a collaboration that starts off Local-Natives-heavy and goes more in the direction of Jack White by the end. Track number 3, Not Quite Love, embodies this better than any other. To say that a band is having a crisis of identity would definitely be over-dramatic and perhaps it’s more accurate to say that their influences shine through a bit too clearly at times.
Man, the fourth track, sounds at the start like it’s about to break into The Clash’s Rock The Casbah, but then steps out in a Jack White/Josh Homme-esque riff full of swagger that aims to get you moving. This is by far and away my personal highlight of the EP – again, those rigid drums come back to accompany some very sharp, chunky riffing and it all clicks. The falsetto vocals over the top just leave the track dripping in a sexual excessiveness that embodies what’s great about rock music.
To bring it all to a close is Settle, a track which starts off in a quiet, mild-mannered – almost timid – acoustic fashion before setting off onto another joyous psychedelic march. While it is a track, it comes across as though they wanted to have a showcase of their sound in one track – again, it’s just not quite as tight as some of the other tracks on here and I think they would be better served to leave this kind of thing behind them as they move on in their career.
The Great EP is an ambitious and accomplished debut from these lads, but it’s clear they’ve still got some way to go before they find a more established sound. That said, they’ve got a pretty good idea of what they’re going to do and it doesn’t sound half bad.