Heel are a female-fronted band, and more than happy to stay away from the usual ideas that phrase implies in current alt-rock. Dan, guitarist of the London-based quartet, explains, “Yes, we have a young female singer, but she doesn’t sing like Hayley Williams or Avril Lavigne, and we don’t strictly play like a metal influenced backing band… We’re just four unique musicians who come together and make music we all love and want to play”. “We love bands like Paramore and Tonight Alive, and really respect the music they make and what they’ve achieved,” continues Maggie. “They are definitely keeping the female fronted bands going, but there have always been strong women in rock.” Bassist, Yuta, and drummer, Tom, complete the outfit who’ve spent the past year internationally touring their self-titled debut release, before releasing their sophomore EP, Stranger Just The Same.
The EP bursts open in a flurry of chords and percussion with Stranger, where the release takes its title from. The music drops away to concentrate of Maggie’s vocals, but it’s not a matter of competition; as the catchy hooks of the chorus build up, the instrumental rises to match whilst the vocal work remains clear and consistent. Reaching unimaginable highs and melancholic lows, the refrain “I know your name / But you’re a stranger just the same”, is guaranteed to have a crowd jumping and chanting along. Gone provides a darker opening, and the echoed vocal work adds an underground feel, before the percussion-dominated chorus gives way to a mini-guitar solo, worthy of an air-guitar attempt. The control in Maggie’s vocals is striking once again, and with a bassline to have the crowd out of control, the track drops away tightly and abruptly.
A melancholic opening to We’ll Fall Back In Love, the penultimate and longest track off the EP at over four and a half minutes, builds up with passionate vocals. The determination of the title line in the chorus is matched with staccato percussion, and towards the close of the track, it’s hard to not listen in awe at the magnificence of Maggie’s vocals. Finale Not You holds a rockier intro that stays as a theme throughout the track, with a gradually built up middle eight leading to a brilliant close of the EP.
Although I want to resist comparing Heel to another female-fronted rock band, the band’s all-out, empowering and tight sound can only be likened to Marmozets. I suspect this band are destined for big things.