George Ward
George Ward

Freelance journalist based in Bristol. Can be found at the Grain Barge, Rough Trade or in his tiny basement bedroom writing for CLUNK.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Label: Krautpop

The first thing you will notice about The Vault is just how bright it is. Many bands feel the need to take themselves so seriously that their debut ends up sounding dull, forced and unnecessarily sincere. Bristol group Factor 50 have gone for a different approach: keep it simple but do it well. The result is 5 joyous indie bangers that sound just as good in the studio as they do live. 

First up is last year’s single ‘Chips’. Arriving at the end of the summer, ‘Chips’ dropped at the perfect time; its romantic lyrics and sunny instrumental cured any post-summer/post-festival blues we might have had and secured Factor 50 as ones to watch in the indie scene. Eddie Akers’ vocals are full of love-struck innocence and Tom Oliver’s sax outro is gorgeous. 

This innocence is found throughout the whole EP and it gives the project a real character and charm. Even with heavier cuts like ‘Marxist Morrissey’, the lyrics are filled with teenage angst and little rebellions. Other bands singing lines like “my dad says I don’t listen to anything he tells me and it’s true” might come across as forced, but Akers’ vocal performance is filled with so much sincerity and passion that you end up rooting for his character, with a smile on your face.

The sound of the EP twists and turns throughout, from sweet indie pop to punky indie and, with each of these twists, every member commits fully. Akers sounds equally good singing of a teenage crush as he does yelling with everything he has on ‘Good’. 

This track is the highlight of ‘The Vault’. The chorus, the catchiest of their whole discography, is insanely loveable, with the vocals firstly backed only by Zach Kendall’s pumping bass and Tom Oliver’s jagged guitar stabs. It is a great example of Factor 50’s charm; cowbells, fun effects and a singalong bridge all make an appearance. 

For a first project, Factor 50 are sounding incredibly tight. The rhythm section, made up of Zach on bass and Billy on drums, hold the group together, with a particular highlight being ‘Stop’. Both the bass and drums really have a chance to shine here; they are full of confidence and mixed perfectly. 

‘The Vault’ shuts its doors with ‘Special Cuddle’, slowing the pace but losing none of the energy. And, just when you think there couldn’t be yet another catchy chorus, they deliver once again. Lines like “I’m stuck inside your TV, making funny faces with my breath on the screen” are full of character and are equally as fun as they are slightly manic and unhinged.

This track leaves us with a reminder of all of Factor 50’s best qualities. The effects on the vocals, bass and guitar create a dreamy atmosphere in the verse while heavily distorted guitar riffs, twinkling synths from Patrick Welsh, and a monstrous bassline build into a massive finale. Every member shines here, from the playful synthline to yet another passionate vocal performance and it rounds off the project perfectly. 

Catch Factor 50 live. Their energy is unmatched in the current indie scene and, if you still need proof of this, take a listen to this EP. It is a sunny, confident and youthful EP bursting with character and it makes me very curious about which of their many sounds they decide to pursue next.

Listen to ‘The Vault’ here:

Catch Factor 50 at the following:

The Underground, Plymouth – 14th April

The Cavern, Exeter – 15th April

Outer Town Festival, Bristol – 16th April

The Victoria, London – 18th April