This new Brighton-based band aren’t just ‘good’, we’ve recently promoted them to ‘great’. The reason behind this elevation is that they’ve taken a gamble by attempting to create music that’s epic, intricate, adventurous and designed on a massive scale, and they’ve won. Lots of bands have tried this. Lots have bands stopped at ‘good’.
You’re unlikely to pigeon hole them into a specific genre, so we will aim to describe their aesthetic instead. You know when you get the likes of Brian Cox discussing the universe he mentions things that are on such an enormous size you can’t actually quite get your head around it – well, Phoria aim to bring you music measured on that same stellar scale. This is a band with many decent strengths, including a great band name and some lovely artwork, alongside the remarkable music, so it seems the stars are the direction in which they’re headed.
If you could bottle the essence of the Radiohead tune, Reckoner, then stir in some ethereal Sigur Ros, then you’d be close to the Brighton quintet’s wide open sound. Their debut EP, Yourself Still, arrived late in 2010 and is available to download for free on their bandcamp. It treads a consistent path throughout, with their trademark slow starts that often build into crescendos, exactly as the opening tune, Bruised, does so well. However, the EP didn’t spark the fire of buzz that you might expect, instead proving more of an initial statement of intent from a young band in the early stages of their evolution, prior to any PR company, record label, or management being on board. The results often ponder for lengthy periods, only rewarding you with neck ache from staring at your shoes for too long.
In fairness we noticed two tunes tucked away in the middle of the 5-track EP, Away With The Mouth (Ash) and Divider, both of which twist and turn enough to make the band’s usual meandering gait pick up a welcome bit of pace, especially on the latter, which is a masterpiece of an instrumental, but in the arc of the EP’s story the heights aren’t enough to protect you from the rain. However, the boys can really play and Trewin Howard’s vocals are stunningly clean. It’s with this encouragement that we look ahead and on the horizon we can see the imminent release of EP number two, Bloodworks, and we’re very pleased to tell you that the signs are healthy. Very healthy.
As soon as we heard Dolls Spinning Wide our pulse started to pick up. This had a smoother feel and an evolved fluidity to their musicianship. Gone was the over-long build up and in it’s place we find warm, cinematic excellence. It’s not self-indulgent, it’s just indulgent and we’ve returned to the play button’s table time after time. So many bands arrive on the scene that are talented, but they often lack a single, but with Phoria’s new work we think they’ve found theirs. This track isn’t just reminiscent of Radiohead, this is reminiscent of Radiohead at their best.
Another new tune, Directed, picks up the Sigur Ros comparisons once again, but twists in the scary, grown-up bit of Foals. This tune is perhaps their Spanish Sahara. Comparisons aside, it’s very fucking great. Elsewhere among the new available demos we get an enjoyable focus on the drums with the track, Love It, which tries a few layered, Pink Floyd-esque vocals too. Posture brings more grooved basslines too, which convinces us that we’re watching a band not only maturing with their abilities, but who are experimenting with their song-writing and rather than disappearing into the un-listenable rabbit hole – which so many bands do – are instead finding how to keep you interested. (MB)
PHORIA – DOLLS SPINNING WIDE
PHORIA – DIRECTED
PHORIA – POSTURE