It was just last summer that The Orwells first blazed through our speakers, spinning their twisted tales of homeroom homicides, drunken house parties, and more from the minds of five mischievous suburban minors. Debut LP Remember When, recorded while the band were still in high school, was a youthful, irresistible jaunt down garage rock memory lane. Now, with summertime once again in full swing, the boys are back, but this time they’ve traded trips to the local mall for trips to the studio with producer extraordinaire Dave Sitek. The result? The Orwells’ Other Voices EP, which finds our precocious punks back in business, right where they left off. Hardly kids anymore, all members of the full-fledged buzz band are now eighteen– watch out, ladies of America– and ready to begin their ascent into the next level of indie superstardom. Other Voices is our first introduction to this new incarnation of The Orwells; from bright-eyed rock ‘n’ roll babes to barely legal icons in the making.
What does eighteen sound like for an Orwell? Pretty much the same, I guess, only slightly better (and with way more free shit and privileges, I bet). “Other Voices” still brims with the band’s signature accounts of debauchery and devilishly fun times. “I’m slipping in, and you’re slipping out,” singer Mario Cuomo tells his companion, who seems to find herself in the all-too common predicament of having indulged in one too many. Although, as Mario so kindly reminds us, “that’s what nighttime’s all about.” Impressively, The Orwells have a knack for making juvenile subject matter sound as fresh and sharp as a band twice their age. “Other Voices” may weave a familiar narrative– suburban teen shenanigans a la` Dazed and Confused— but there are several hints of sophistication to be found, from Henry Brinner’s precise power-drumming to that murderous hook.
“Other Voices” shares space with some equally impressive EP companions, including “Head,” a gorgeous and gritty psych-rock track– vaguely White Stripes-ian in vibe– that drowns in a bath of its own fierce, melodic fuzz. “Blood Bubbles” continues a dark trend that was first started with Remember When tracks “Lays at Rest” and “Hallway Homicide,” each showcasing a different, similarly morbid fascination with death: “She screamed out for help but nobody came/So she picked up my gun and put it to her brain.” The topic at hand is suicide, tackled as delicately as possible in a fitting, melancholy tribute.
Several months ago, I had the pleasure of catching The Orwells live in all their loud, youthful glory. However, what struck me about the band wasn’t so much their age, but their slightly anxious, completely earnest stage presence; a group of kids teetering on the edge of something really big, but gripping as hard as they could not to fall off. They may not be in college, but as they approach their sophomore year, The Orwells should definitely be holding on tight. Theirs are voices of the future, for sure.
4 / 5 bars