Evans the Death return with their second album Expect Delays in March via Fortuna POP! (Europe) and Slumberland (USA). Recorded again with producer Rory Atwell (Test Icicles, Warm Brains), the album bristles with an underlying tension and veers from rip-roaring noise to quiet contemplation, underpinned by Katherine Whitaker’s extraordinary voice.
Still barely out of their teens, there’s a tremendous sense across Expect Delays of a band coming in to their own, honing a plethora of influences to make a sound that is uniquely them. Each song on the album has a different feel to it: some of them are melodic and pretty; some of them heavy and dissonant; and some of them are, to quote guitarist Dan Moss, “a bit strange”. While retaining the post-punk and 90s alt-rock inspired elements that peppered their debut, the music is more expressive, heavier and more experimental, and the lyrics more nuanced, the sense of despair leavened by sharp wordplay and humour.
The unsettling undercurrent of melancholy and hopelessness that pervades the record has its roots in the last three years, spent eking out an existence on the poverty line in Cameron’s Britain. On the cusp of finishing school when their debut was released, the band rejected the opportunity of higher education in favour of focusing on music, a decision that backfired when the album failed to take off in the way they’d expected, leaving them with a succession of minimum wage jobs and unemployment benefits interviews. As guitarist Dan Moss relates, the album is about “being in London and feeling hopeless and a bit lost. Not having any money, relationships falling apart, things just not connecting or going anywhere and getting absolutely wasted all the time.”
Named after the undertaker in Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood, the band’s 2012 eponymous debut saw critical acclaim from the likes of Q, Uncut and Artrocker as well as radio play on BBC Radio 1, BBC 6Music and XFM. Following the departure of bassist Alanna McArdle to Joanna Gruesome and drummer Rob Mitson the band regrouped around the core of brothers Dan and Olly Moss and singer Katherine Whitaker for the recording of Expect Delays. Previously songwriting duties had been the preserve of the elder Moss brother, Dan, but with Olly now bringing his own songs to the table, the brothers resolved to switch between guitar and bass on a song-by-song basis. Drummer James Burkitt was recruited from Leeds’ band The ABC Club to complete a new lean and taut four-piece.
Exploding into life with live favourite Intrinsic Grey, its incessant rhythms and squalling guitars a feral cry from the heart, Expect Delays contains more than its fair share of heart-stopping moments. The ebullient Sledgehammer is following by Idiot Button (named after the buttons at street crossings that don’t actually do anything) and what is perhaps the key lyric on the album of “I can’t explain these gaps in my employment record / I’m an idiot for trying”. As if they were demonstrating their virtuosity and versatility the Stereolab-esque title track Expect Delays is followed by the grunge-heavy Enabler, which in turn is followed by the achingly beautiful ballad Waste Of Sunshine, while elsewhere the (late) Beatles-y Don’t Laugh At My Angry Face deals with alcoholism and a relationship at its absolute bitter end. The album ends with a “secret” track Don’t Beat Yourself Up (“we would have listed it but I didn’t want to have 13 tracks” – Dan), written on the night Lou Reed died.
More ambitious and focused than their previous record, whilst sacrificing none of their spontaneity and vitality, Expect Delays is a supremely inventive and intelligently crafted album from a band who have suffered for their art, and used that experience to inform and nourish their work. Expect no more delays, Evans The Death have arrived.
1. Intrinsic Grey
4. Idiot Button
5. Bad Year
6. Just 60,000 More Days 'Til I Die
7. Expect Delays
9. Waste Of Sunshine
11. Clean Up
12. Don't Laugh At My Angry Face