Eastern Barbers describe themselves as a band from the ‘depths’ of South East London, and they sound like they’ve been trawling those depths for inspiration on their debut EP Everybody’s Elsewhere. What they’ve surfaced with is a murky marriage of jazzy tones and ghostly production that clings onto you like the smoke of the city. That their two closest reference points are fellow South Londoners King Krule and The xx only adds to the suspicion that there’s something uniquely glum, poetic and forward thinking going on south of the river.
It’s an approach which is at the centre of ‘Ill Timed State’, which repositions them as Britain’s self-deprecating answer to Mac DeMarco by sticking bright melodies alongside world weary vocals, casting an arched eyebrow at suburban life. ‘Holloway’ is better yet, stumbling through airy, almost Nile Rodgers-esque guitars until they deliver the inevitable gut-punch: ‘I sold my soul for 18 grand’, they sigh, echoing the thoughts of a million disillusioned commuters.
Bookending the EP is ‘White Eyes’ which provides a more spaced-out distillation of their sound that could be Foals at their most intimate. It’s a bleak and desperate portrait of young suburban life which pictures them making tragic romantic advances on late night transport, gripped by the terror of getting older whilst ‘everybody seems to be elsewhere’. They’re not as hopeless as they think; Everybody’s Elsewhere marks them out as a raw and unconventional talent.