Over a debut EP and a handful of recent singles, Brighton five-piece Squid have emerged as one of the country’s most intriguing, exciting new guitar bands. With real life experience and surreal weirdness prioritised equally, there’s relatability and escapism in abundance in the band’s music – not to mention wonderfully catchy, left field post-punk songs.
The band’s previous two singles, ’The Dial’ and ‘Houseplants’, excellently demonstrated this meshing of the ordinary and the surreal. The first focused on a hospitalised loved one, where the taking of blood by a nurse leads folds out into a tale in which the subject becomes a vampire, sucking blood from the patients. ‘Houseplants’, meanwhile, honed in on millennial angst, with the titular plants a metaphorical replacement for a world where twenty-somethings can afford their own houses.
On their excellent new EP ‘Town Centre’, the band turns the lens outwards. Sandwiched in between slow, winding intro ‘Savage’ and minimal, creepy closer ‘Rodeo’ are two more singles, ‘The Cleaner’ and ‘Match Bet’.
On these two songs, the band tell the story of a pair of characters, proving themselves once again to be brilliant storytellers. Squid describe the titular ‘Cleaner’ as “a lost acquaintance, one that we’ve spent the last year trying to get to know,” whose story unfolds over seven minutes of bouncy, jagged brilliance. ‘Match Bet’, meanwhile, is told from the perspective of a Sonic Youth super-fan who suffers with mental illness, a regular at a shop that singing drummer Ollie Judge used to work in. The character’s “manic, long conversations” are translated with fervour via Judge’s intense yelps, and coloured by unsettling horns in its restless chorus.
With this depth of storytelling existing alongside a successful encapsulation of the band’s brilliant, lauded live show, ‘Town Centre’ pushes Squid forwards with yet more evidence of what a fascinating young band they are.
The intro and outro to the EP – especially the freeform, languid ‘Rodeo’ – also show that their expertise lays way beyond the same post-punk hymn sheet of their singles. When they allow themselves the space to explore this weirdness fully on a debut album, the results could well be stunning.