ENQUIRY! – What A Time To Be Alive review

Although the formed way back in 2012, it’s not until March 16th that ENQUIRY! will be releasing their debut EP, What A Time To Be Alive, via Cardiff based label and management Jealous Lovers Club. Have toured through the majority of 2014, the band have picked up a strong underground following, and this four track release  is sure to feed their anticipating fans. Flicking between all manner of genres, the band take influence from the likes of Brand New and The Xcerts, but are far from limited by these inspirations.

The opening of Stop Wasting Time, You’re Going To Die doesn’t do much to kick off the record, a simple drum intro being built up with riffs being a fairly blank slate, but as the music unwinds, it’s clear they’ve got more in common with Eagulls than similar logos. Whilst the instrumental is akin to Nai Harvest, heavy, almost harsh, vocals contrast that. Too heavy for noise and too noisey for heavy, ENQUIRY! promise to ignore any guidelines and do whatever they like.

Texas, Honey opens more as you’d expect – all fuzzed up noise and layers of riffs, leaving it most of a minute before the vocals get to play a part. This leaves the track to switch between full-volume, hearing-damage inducing noise to random quieter moments, before closing with a ridiculously lengthy, psychedelic meets grunge close. Stretching over five minutes, if this song doesn’t give you a headache, it’s because you’re not listening to it loud enough.

As underwhelming openings go, Viking (The Bastard Sons Of A Thousand) nails it. Bass guitars aren’t known for their solo-ing techniques, and waiting half a minute through such a basic intro hardly inspires a change in this opinion for me. Every opportunity for the track to really “take off” is missed, and when it does, it’s… yeah, underwhelming. It’s not until a solid minute in that anything much happens, and you realise it’s not going to go anywhere. They try to use the stop-start deal again, but somehow the whole piece lacks the enthusiasm and expertise the others thrived on – at a live show, this’d be the one that’s played whilst everyone goes to the bar.

Winding up the record with “P” is for Pyscho is the EP’s highlight – ENQUIRY! show you don’t have to be loud, constantly to have the power of noise, and this control does the song a million favours. Not only is this the best track off the EP, it’s one of the best I’ve heard all year. Strained vocals layer up to add a sense of desperation and the token guitar riffs that’ve been highlight throughout come back again. ENQUIRY! show here that they really know how to construct an earworm.

What A Time To Be Alive is maddeningly up and down – one moment they’re giving you riffs that make you want to shed all dignity and play air guitar like it’s the last thing you’ll ever do, and the next you’re straining your ears to see if anything’s actually happening. To be honest, the EP’s worth buying for the closing track alone.

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