Berwick’s Number One band produce astounding second album...
You know Simon & Garfunkel, right? You know, like, Nick Drake, yeah? You know, um, Adem, OK? Well, Eastern Lane don’t sound anything at all like any of those bastards in any way whatsoever.
If a sensitive young man with a softly-thumbed guitar and a knapsack full of lovelorn poetry approached any of the Lane, they’d – and I’m making all this shit up, naturally, but let’s go with it anyway – pull the offending item out of his trembling hands and shove it so far up his aching fundament it would double as a spectacularly unattractive hat. For Eastern Lane like to rock. The opening track may be called‘Daffodils For My Mother’, but it may as well be called ‘A Punch In The Tits For Some Fuckface’ for all the lady-pleasing qualities it displays. No, Eastern Lane are not a gentle band. They like to stretch their tortured laynxes over the Hüsker Dü -meets- Sinéad O’Connor drivetime indie-metal of‘For The Sun’, or the skronk-happy caveman boogie of‘No. 5’, with its warmly jarring time-changes and growl-along chorus. At times, like on the superbly perky‘Feed Your Addiction’, they sound like the Red Hot Chili Peppers might if they could find it in their hearts to remember when it was all still exciting, and you picture them striding the grassy slopes of their native Berwick-upon-Tweed, dressed only in grubby sports socks and actually enjoying themselves. At others – take recent single ‘Saffron’ for an example – the crisp guitar lines and drawling vocal bark make you think of Caleb Followill fronting The Strokes, a concept so heavy with a certain sort of utterly filthy guilty pleasure that you may want to keep it to yourself. Just like I ha… Oh. Anyhow, during‘I Said Pig On Friday’, they fly in some croaky old drum machine, get all choppy and angular and you think, where the fuck did all this shit come from already? What happened to all the hair and the chest wigs and the foot on the monitor gear? ‘Feed Your Addiction’ has great swathes of head-swinging Motown soul, but still vibrates with this inner tension. When frontman Derek Meins croons something impenetrable about “the fire in my loins” he sounds more carefree, more unburdened than anywhere else on the record. He sounds as light as air, but it’s still Eastern Lane, still – for all its pointers and influences and flavours – a very individual sort of racket. Pause for second to note that this second-album eclecticism comes from a band who are only just able to be legally served in pubs.
Then they pull up and knee you in the nuts, as ‘I Feel Liberated’ rolls out on an artfully plucked piano that supports Meins’ steely croon. He’s Elton John with horse-shit on his fingers and a hangover so punishing it might just kill him but he’ll be damned if he doesn’t make it to the end, where a great teardrop of a melody line builds until it bursts right above his head, cleansing him and the track in a warm salt bath. You think they can’t do it twice? Flick to‘Goodbye Rose Garden’, where they become precisely the sort of breathy, string-picking ponces I accused them of torturing earlier. If I could make out what Meins was singing – I’m getting “silence”, “empty” and “goodbye”, that’s about it – I might collapse in a sobbing heap, especially as they’ve shoehorned in this maudlin country twang to top the whole thing off. You see how confusing this all is? You see that Eastern Lane are equally at home to I-Am-A-Certifiable-Lunatic gear like‘Pretty Good’, where Tom Waits’ most evil klank gets strangulated by Meins’ death-trip, psycho- Pixies babble, as they are to plangent pastoralia like‘Goodbye Rose Garden’? These people aren’t healthy; they will upset your equilibrium, they will poke you in places you had hope to remain unpoked, they will get one of their fingernails under one of your fingernails and turn it slowly, slowly until you’re in agony. Good, enjoyable agony, but agony nonetheless.
Eastern Lane are contrary, do-whatever-they-fucking-want bastards. Clasp them to your heaving bosom now.