Posted by Aphra Magazine by 1/6/15.
The Upskirts are known for their radiant production of head banging sludge rock. With their new EP, Barely Moving, they set fire to our ears with more of the same. But the album also emanates softer indie pop elements, present in single ‘Nothing Happens In Roseville’. Here we gain an interesting perspective into the world of vocalist and drummer Tom as he journeys beyond his Roseville white picket fence and enters the chaos and calamity of the outside world. Expanding upon the song, he states, ‘Bad shit is going on everywhere, inequality, exploitation, damage and suffering – but nothing ever seemed to happen in Roseville’. In their new EP, Upskirts cross the line between the safe bubble of Roseville and the extremities of life on the other side where they now reside.
In ‘Nothing Happens In Roseville’ Tom’s gentle, flowing vocals lull us into a false sense of security as we are suspended in Roseville’s peaceful fantasy world. Soon the veil is shattered, however, as we are submerged in the deepening reality beyond Roseville with amped up heavy guitar strokes. Tom sings, ‘It’s over my head, it’s out of my hands, if you remember, it’s fallen apart in the past’, and his vocals are filled with a raw desperation as he struggles to fully grasp the mechanics of this new and confronting world. We feel the struggle that this new uncharted territory brings and that is exactly what makes this song so brilliant. As the track ends with the same soft and melodious feel that it begun with, we are teased by how things used to be behind that white picketed fence, right after we have been shocked with the blast of a new reality.
‘Open Yourself To The Sky’ is another beautiful song on the record, and it opens up with Tom’s infectious drumming which softens as his flowery vocals savour the chorus: ‘Open yourself… to the sky’. While he softly meanders through the chorus, the serenity of the song is tainted by Harry’s guitar playing, creating a darkness that is both beautiful and mystifying. Perhaps this darkness symbolises the implications of opening yourself to the sky; it may be both a blessing and a curse, depending on how you look at it.
‘Where’ kicks off with a winding guitar solo which fluctuates between highs and lows as Tom drones, ‘Where are you running?’. This song oozes confusion and positions you to feel directionless as you float along with the lyrics. It has a fuzzy droning feel to it that mirrors the agonising experience of struggling to find a purpose in this world.
‘Swirling’ is both edgy and rhythmic; the guitar playing is soft towards the beginning, accompanied by a chiming sound that supports Tom’s grated vocals. Aching with sadness, he sings, ‘I felt alive again on a long and winding road’, and the song becomes choppier with heavier guitar riffs. ‘We Could Be a Team’ epitomises sludge rock and the presence of all those guitars definitely encourages listeners to head bang to the song’s beat.
‘Mind’s A Burden’ is light-hearted and contains more indie pop elements that give it an easygoing and relaxing vibe. There are different levels of guitar going on here and Tom’s voice seems to balance those highs and lows, providing stability and direction. The last song of the album, ‘Moving Slowly’ has a slow yet sweet beginning, and Tom’s voice has a ‘lollipops and rainbows’ feel to it. Upskirts have admitted that this song reflects their ‘(wannabe) Beatles moment’, and the band seems to be ruminating over their life journey up to this point. This song literally moves slowly (akin to its name), as we are encouraged to enjoy its relaxing and flowing feel. It may as well be a lullaby, as the guitar lightly soars.
If you want to hear an album that incorporates a wide variety of different sounds and beats, this one’s your best bet. Upskirts have effectively mixed heavier sludge rock with lighter indie pop to increase the momentum of their music and captivate listeners with their unique creations, so be sure to give them a listen.
Upskirts – Barely Moving is out now via Inertia Access