English Teacher – ‘Polyawkward’ EP review: lively art-punk with a lyrical edge

With angst and absurdist humour to spare, a winning sense of playfulness pervades the NME 100 stars' debut EP

For Leeds’ English Teacher, there’s no shortage of things to be pissed off about, so you might as well enjoy the ride. The playful yet polished ‘Polyawkward’, sees fury and fun overlap: these punchy, melodic songs unite nervy, whirlpooling guitars with cutting takedowns of the day-to-day (laborious supermarket trips, hangovers, dodgy dates). It makes for a deliciously sour debut EP, set to a soundtrack of restless art-punk.

“I see everything in skits”, sings lead vocalist Lily Fontaine on the clever and jittery ‘A55’, and from there, she chases whatever seems to pop into her head. Recent single ‘Good Grief’, which the band previously described to NME as “the love story of Track and Trace” contrasts images of the emotional impact of lockdown with offbeat wit and a brilliantly nagging bassline. The title track, meanwhile, paints a portrait of a man seemingly on the brink of a walloping comedown: “The watered-down tequila / Makes his walls crumble like clay.”

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‘Polyawkward’s best moment, however, might be its most restrained. With a spoken-word delivery worthy of the band’s regional forebear Jarvis Cocker, on ‘Yorkshire Tapas’, our narrator teeters between having a great time and trying to hold a conversation with someone who isn’t worth the effort. “And for dessert / I’ll eat up your laughter”, quips Fontaine.

The four-piece harmonise on the tumbling refrain of ‘Mental Maths’ as if singing along to a nursery rhyme, ignoring the discordant riffs in the background that wobble like a broken-down fairground ride. It’s purposefully silly and breezy: the sound of a young, rising band at their loosest and funniest, rolling with life’s punches while laughing every step of the way.

Details

  • Release date: April 22
  • Record label: Nice Swan Records

 

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