Producing your first body of work provides a snapshot into a band’s thinking. deadletter have been considered in their approach on their debut EP, obviously aiming to look forwards rather than backwards. Recorded at Hackney’s Pony Studios with producer Elliot Heinrich, they have included only the most recent singles plus previously unreleased songs on Heat!, their 5-track debut EP released on 18 November via SO Recordings.
‘Weights’ is a perfect track to open the EP. The twang of the guitar has an immediacy which demands the attention. It also introduces deadletter’s opiniated lyrics, here referencing the general struggles of life, the weights that we carry if you will. The clarity of Zac Lawrences vocal means the lyrics are clearly heard. But the music is ear-grabbing and it’s the combination of these two elements that make deadletter such an exciting prospect.
“You’rе dragging the boulder
With relentless determination
Grip on for dear life to the rope that’s attached
Sometimes you’ve got to give those hands a break.”
On ‘Madges declaration‘ the Madge in question is Madonna and the song’s name and idea is drawn from her lyrics back in 1984: “We are living in a material world.” The pursuit of material articles seems to have only strengthened over time. Values and humility are disregarded in this pursuit. Everything today is disposable; if something is not instantly pleasing it is cast away. ‘Madges Declaration‘ is lyric driven for the first two thirds of the track. We cannot ignore the statement: “I’ve got shoes, but no soul”. What a clever play on words, and those six words convey so much about materialism. The accompanying screechy guitar and percussion add to the slight foreboding atmosphere within the song. However the last third shifts gear and heads into fabulous funkier territory with the three guitarists of George Ullyott (bass), Will King (guitar) and Sam Jones (guitar).
There is a fascination around learning about the creation of songs, and none more so than when songs come together very quickly. ‘Binge’ was written in less than 25 minutes, which is astonishing considering its mix of complexity, its subject matter, its hooks and its dance friendly quirkiness. This has quickly become a crowd favourite when played live which is no surprise with thought-provoking lyrics and stomping rhythms particularly in the chorus.
“The chest is full, you had to sit on it to pry it closed
That not a wind sock flying mighty, hinting as it blows?
The sudden urge to pack another chest, with hurry grows
Have not the sight to ingest red flags right beneath your nose
Even most heinous acts’ environments can call upon.”
‘The Kingdom’ is the first unreleased track on the EP. With a slightly slower pace, but to be clear, not a slow track, the lyrics are at the forefront here with the saxophone of Poppy Richler prevalent throughout. Again we are treated to a stream of conscience and a dancefloor friendly vibe, it’s a potent combination in this bands hands.
It seems only fitting that the EP finishes with deadletters five-and-a-half-minute set-closer ‘Zeitgeist’. What a track this is to have in your arsenal. It rumbles along at the beginning, growing as it progresses. Drummer Alfie Husband adds to the increasingly frantic vibe. The cacophony of sound only increases until it hits the final note but we left with this final sentiment lodged in our brains: “There’s something in the air, there’s a storm coming”
It’s no surprise to learn that deadletter were asked to support Placebo on their current tour, playing arenas across Europe. It will have quite rightly brought the band to the attention of a whole new fan base. This is a storming stomping visceral debut EP. deadletter produce music that is post-punk, post post-punk, pointed in its commentary, and yet perfect for the moshpit. A deadly mix indeed.