Baker Island – ‘Four Days In The Life Of The Auto-Icon’ – EP Review

baker island four days in the auto icon review

New cassette EP Four Days In The Life Of The Auto-Icon is released via Wiener Records on 18th January 2016.

Baker Island’s debut LP Bobby Hundreds only came out last August, but already they’re back with some new tunes, evidently determined to grab 2016 by the horns and give it a good shake up. Their latest EP, out this month on Wiener Records, features four new tracks full of quirky sounds and snatches of life in their native Newcastle.

The first, ‘Write Home’, is in the vein of much of their debut album – jangly, lo-fi guitar pop. The chorus, though, is perhaps stronger than any on Bobby Hundreds, and on the whole it’s a three minute racket which should put smiles on many a face, even for those who have a bit of difficulty with the really quite Geordie vocals (I’m still not sure whether they’re telling ‘Dennis’ or ‘Kenneth’ to pick themselves up from the floor).

‘Always, 1995’, is similarly likely to induce dizzy grins, and actually puts me in mind of mid-noughties indie rabble the View, in a good way. I was 14 when ‘Same Jeans’ was everywhere, and ‘Always’ has a similar ragged vibe, and yep, Baker Island are going to a disco in the middle of the town too. The song ends on a pretty dark note though, when at the end of the night all the partygoers really want is their ‘two pounds of meat’.

Things stay dark too, in ‘Concessionary Ticket’ and ‘Allotment’. They’re completely unlike the first two tracks, featuring squalls of feedback and menacing atmospherics. The former opens with some unsettling whirring noises before the Island launch into a grungey number about a nuclear fallout. It’s the sound of a band trying something new, maybe signalling that their sophomore album might be a more hard-edged affair.

Allotment is similarly uncompromising, seven minutes of sprawling dirge and eerie guitar shrieks. It’d be fair to say that few bands have made a walk through the allotments and the local business park sound so forbidding, and just to cap things off, it sounds like a spaceship from the 1970s has arrived at the end to abduct them. Until they get beamed up, it actually sounds a bit like fellow Overblown favourites Traams, though perhaps they never quite click into irresistible groove like their south-coast brethren.

Overall though, it’s an interesting stipend ahead of, presumably, a further LP at some point fairly soon. I wouldn’t like to guess what said LP is likely to sound like, but I’d hazard that it’ll be slightly off-kilter. They’ve definitely got a way with an oddball pop song, and a left-field lyric or two. The big question is whether or not they can successfully tie their tuneful indie to their more ambitious streak. If they can, then Baker Island might just be on to something.

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