By Oliver Burton
Out now via Alcopop! Records
Following the success of singles ‘Redevelopments’ and ‘Dad Bod‘, Bristol 5-piece Home Counties continue to find the lighter side of 2020 with the release of their debut EP.
Bearing the same name as debut single ‘Redevelopments’, these five tracks transcend the band beyond the overused labels of “wonky” and “angular”, labels which given the onslaught of post punk traffic now appear to describe homogeny rather than character.
‘Redevelopments’ then is a timely reminder that Home Counties offer far more than their “wonky”, “angular” contemporaries. The fifteen or so minutes of music engraves the band’s sound onto the busy Bristol landscape, whilst being littered with moments that purposefully serve to distance the band far from any prior or preconceived expectation.
Though at time vague comparisons can of course be drawn with similar acts, Home Counties have faithfully nodded to their contemporaries (Do Nothing, Courting, The Cool Greenhouse) without abandoning the musical principles which first cast them onto the map, and as such ‘Redevelopments’ is distilled with a bold but proud uniqueness.
Upon its release earlier in the year, opening track ‘Redevelopments’ effectively served as the band’s musical manifesto. With cacophonous guitars that bend and twist around the notions of how six strings should sound, the song was a foundation which perfectly warmed up the ears to the Home Counties sound.
Left gasping for whatever four or six string algorithm that would follow, ‘Dad Bod’ gave us a 2 minute crash course on head bobbing and syncopation, and like ‘Redevelopments’ (the song), bore a certain cynicism in its lyrics. An early sign of what was to define the Home Counties outlook, both singles clawed at different facets of popular culture, taking housing upgrades and muscle factories aboard their carousel of criticism.
The third track ‘Chuggin’, starts life as the love child of tracks one and two, though gaps in the instrumentation allow a for first close-up glance at the naked individual elements of a Home Counties song. The exercise pays off, because when these elements group together, ‘Chuggin’ is far more than the sum of its parts. The song’s second half provides the first notable departure from the typical Home Counties’ song structure, and so the versatility that this section brings makes it one of the EP’s best moments.
With ‘Raoul’, we start to experience the progression of Home Counties’ songwriting, beginning with the endless adrenaline of ‘Redevelopments’, and the shifty, yet still relentless ‘Dad Bod’, the latter tracks certainly offer more in terms of artistry, each member developing every song in terms of refinement. This development of style and music prose seems evident even to the band themselves. “It’s sort of a transitional record…from our previous project to this one, and sows the seeds of what we’re moving towards”.
The final track ‘That’s Where the Money’s Gone’ certainly feels conclusive. Every dose of dissonance, every displaced bass note, and every remark that buries the tongue in the cheek, adds up to this – a sardonic celebration of tax havens and economic injustice. Thankfully, unlike their peers (won’t name them, maybe think shite Reptillia cover), Home Counties aren’t on a quest to save the world. Instead their music is a well-seasoned conduit for an accurate telling of modern Britannia. Like some other bands around them (don’t say Courting don’t say Courting) such as Liverpool outfit Courting, Home Counties’ music is a mirror to much of the world around them, yet instilled with a sarcastic approach that looks inwards at the millennial experience. Yes, life is inherently bleak when you don’t have abs and six figures. Does it matter? No because my band are Home Counties, and we’re really quite good.
Listen to the ‘Redevelopments’ EP here: