Grunge. The “its been done” genre. One that has begrudgingly limped along parallel to its own fuzz staring up at the big names. Turfboy and At Tension find themselves in this camp and very much, like all underground bands in this vein, exist to dispel this apparent gazing at greats and greats only. Grunge has its mainstays and embossed legacy bands but much like its Punk-Rock roots, yields such a quantity of OTHER worthwhile entities that absolutely require your attention. The genre HAS been done. The big names ARE brilliant but you’d be a fool to mistake this begrudging underground motion as laziness. Grunge is the moody-being of Punk-rooted Alternative Rock after-all and isn’t that why we love it? Yes, the answer is yes.
After eight-years and several EPs of sardonic sarcasm, dry wit and deep cut emotion beset with the aforementioned begrudging demeanour, Turfboy are releasing their debut full-length. The Dublin band are doing so via Horn & Hoof Records of Manchester who sent EN At Tension early.
‘Holly Dae’ opens with a foreboding, looming and aggravated tone borrowed from the genre’s penchant for Hardcore Punk as the band cut through your defences. ‘Holly Dae’ introduces audible “gravel-rock” that despite its abrasion, beckons you with warped-discordant leads.
Although Alternative Rock has its origins in Punk, the genre has wonderfully diversified. Now, obviously, vibrancy is key to music and its further propagation. However, within that, there is still a lot to be said for the genre’s barebones, vintage format. ‘Rageahol’ is very much the meeting point of origin and its derivative sapling. Turfboy, bar the tracks abrasive end, opt for choppy, Alternative Rock that unveils a more than welcome melodic and contrasting sound somewhat unexpected after ‘Holly Dae’. Rage is a powerful destabiliser.
‘(L)earn’ follows the priors prevailing permeating melodic approach for the most part. Track three is mired in a battle with itself over a Nirvana and Pearl Jam-esque crossover of clean to strained and frustrated vocals. Thick Alt. Rock-led Grunge is your guide through a lesson, where apparently, nothing is learned. Three tracks in and Turfboy pad their catharsis with key variety. This statement in itself may seem contrived or cliché but it is important to remember that is a Grunge record at its core. ‘Why’ maintains this melodic-yet-rough cut approach akin to the sound that catapulted Nirvana into ill-fated stardom. That’s not a prophetic statement, Turfboy, don’t worry.
‘Why’ initially rumbles past unremarkably but upon a revisit, substantiates the very notion of a replay. ‘Idiocracy Is Reality’ via its true statement moniker, opts for another change in pace where Turfboy alternate playfulness with overly gratuitous, but not unwelcome riffs and vocal range, variety and dynamic that mark an album selling point. ‘Idiocracy Is Reality’ is an unabated, intrinsic representation of contemporary political frustration. ‘In Absentia’ manages to convey dry-sardonic-uncaring humour through its reverberating rhythms alone. Vocally, track-six sees another contrast befitting of the ill-feeling flowing from the band’s voice box. ‘Lunge’ is the expected slab of obnoxiously-toned Punk in a track of self-reflection and is At Tension premium content.
Admittedly, the blues-drenched Hard-Rock-centric ‘Not Like You’, sits somewhat out of place. There is nothing explicable “wrong” but within the content of At Tension, ‘Not Like You’ is a niche-cut. ‘Not School’ is a return to form with the band’s mocking wit forcibly trying to rationalise its existence. I joke, but ‘Not School’ sees Turfboy at their absolute lyrical and cathartic best. Following on, ‘Swim So Shallow’ combines the four-pieces’ past forays into snotty-Punk through a primary filter of melodic Alt. Rock and a final sieve of Grunge-brand-disinterest. The latter being deliberately ironic toward the lyrical displays in further odes to the formula the “big G” built.
The penultimate ‘Cyc’ unexpectedly crashes through an unfiltered straight cut blast of Hardcore Punk and that’s all I have to say about that. At Tension ends with ear-worming, distorted and regularly whirling melodic gloom beset with just as much existentialist gripes and frustration as At Tension has communicated throughout through ‘Millie The Jeff and Subh The Snail’.
At Tension, despite being arguably limited within its chosen trajectory, owns itself. The debut full-length from Turfboy releases via Horn & Hoof Records on the 08/08/20. You can find all things the band and label below with pre-orders – Here – and – Here.
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