Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Album Review: Reservoirs by Myelin (by Emma Prew)

Myelin are a four-piece from London, fronted by ex-Apologies, I Have None guitarist and vocalist, Dan Bond. On the 4th of August they released their first EP, titled Reservoirs, on Uncle M Records which features 5 brand new tracks. If I had to label Myelin’s music with a particular genre I would edge towards post-punk over poppier punk. I was a big fan of ‘Dan’s songs’ on Apologies’ early releases and therefore keen to hear how his music had progressed with Myelin’s debut EP.

Reservoirs opens with the not so cheerily titled Die. Before I go any further – or before you read any further – I should probably point out that if cheery, happy-go-lucky songs are what you’re looking for then Myelin probably aren’t for you. Die starts slowly and quietly with gentle, sombre guitar and Dan’s restrained vocals. However there is a great sense of building as the song progresses towards the chorus. This building continues through the second verse and things really kick off in the second chorus, as Dan screams ‘Some things were born to die…’ A particular lyric that stood out to me was ‘I thought I was nothing without resilience, well I am nothing now.’ as it seems to be a nod towards the AIHN song Foundations which uses a similar phrase. The second song, Fifteen, has more of a melodic feel to it from the start with more intricate guitar playing. Fifteen is a song about reflecting on feelings you had when you, and those around you, were younger as well as dealing mental health issues as an adult. The lyrics are pretty direct and hard hitting – ‘Now we're both looking at the other like "I am done with this, I am done with you, you'll never be happy" and we're both thinking "I don't feel anything about anything, I don't know what's wrong with me.”’ This song could have easily finished after 3 minutes and been good but it doesn’t. There is what feels like a short musical interlude in the middle of this track before the lines ‘Is it all in my head? Because I can't tell. Is it all in my head? Because I can't fucking tell anymore.’ are repeated over and over. This makes Fifteen more than just good. I imagine this will be equal parts amazing and emotional to watch played live.

The pace picks up a little for Gaps with another melodic guitar introduction. At first glance, or listen I suppose, this song sounds like another downcast tune but I think that that’s not necessarily all there is to it. Gaps is about having someone that you love more than anything, despite how much of a struggle it is and despite how difficult it might feel sometimes. Even though there are ‘gaps’ in a person’s personality or a relationships compatibility, that’s okay because there’s no such thing as perfect. ‘It's complicated but I love you, every part that's still intact and the devil in your gaps.’ Horror is the penultimate track on Reservoirs and it is a powerful and honest song about dealing with anxiety. I imagine that writing this song was a form of release from all of these negative feelings that you can have when dealing with any sort of mental health problem. It is easy to nod your head along to this song with its rhythmic guitars and pounding drums and get lost in the music but I think you’ve really got to listen closely to the lyrics (or read them on Bandcamp, as I’ve done!) to fully connect with this song. The last line of the song is one that fully deserves to be spread far and wide – ‘Sometimes to get better you've got to get worse first.’. The last song, Cave, begins with a fair amount of reverb, giving the song an echoey and dream-like feel. This song closes the EP in much of the same vein as that which came before it. But that’s not to say that it sounds exactly the same as the previous four tracks. It certainly sounds like an album or set closer for one thing. Cave also helps to bring Reservoirs full circle, using the line ‘We are caged animals down here, waiting to die.’ to link up with the first song on the EP. 

Reservoirs is a pretty heavy going EP emotionally, and musically as well in parts, but that does not mean that it does not deserve your attention. On the contrary it is songs that deal with these difficult sort of subjects that need to be heard more so than songs about drinking or partying or whatever, especially when so many people struggle with mental illness. Myelin deserve yours ears.

You can download and stream Reservoirs on Bandcamp and find Myelin on Facebook. Facebook is also where you’ll find details of the EP release show happening in London on 17th of August, featuring full band Sam Russo as well. What a treat!

This review was written by Emma Prew.

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