Because I live in the United States, music from other countries is a bit of an interesting thing. While the Internet has given people infinite access to music from all over the world, I still find that a lot of quality music from different parts of the world can slip through the cracks. Of course, you have your huge breakouts such as The Beatles, who were really the first, spearheading the British Invasion back in the 1960’s, or One Direction for a more modern example. Most often, however, music scenes are vastly different in different areas of the world. For another example, singer-songwriter James Bay has achieved huge success in the United Kingdom, but here in the States, he’s only recently started getting some buzz. Honestly, though, I wonder how much that matters. Like I said, the Internet has opened the doors for anyone to put their content out there for anyone on the planet to see, so the need for that huge international breakout isn’t as necessary as it once was. With all of that said, I still think a lot of stuff from outside of your own country can go unnoticed. Here’s where Southampton punk band Miss Vincent comes in. Before being given the opportunity to review their upcoming EP, Reasons Not to Sleep, I really didn’t know anything about this band, aside from already having their Facebook page liked, strangely enough. However, after spending some time with this EP, I wish I had found out about them sooner, because we have a band with a very promising future on our hands.
In the press release attached to my copy of the EP, lead vocalist and guitarist Alex Marshall said “With Creepy (their previous EP), we just recorded the best 5 songs that we had at the time. We’re still proud of it, but this time I think we really found ‘our sound’.” While I don’t have the benefit of knowing their previous material, Miss Vincent definitely feels like a band coming into their own on this new EP. I’ll admit, when I think of punk music, I usually think of a rather abrasive and fast-paced sound that’s never really been my thing. That’s not the case here, however, and that’s a very good thing. Their self-proclaimed “moody punk” sound feels very tight and cohesive. and thankfully, every element is given room to breathe and shine. Standout moments include the opening bass line in opening track DNR and the guitar solo in Disparate, Desperate. I really appreciate the musicality the band displays. Now, if these guys ever make a full-length album, I’d like to see them experiment and expand on their sound even further. The foundation is there, now they just need to run with it.
Of course, you need good vocals to carry everything home, and Marshall fits the bill quite nicely. He reminds me a bit of Matt Skiba from Alkaline Trio (whom the band cited as an influence) and even Tim McIlrath of Rise Against, which definitely isn’t a bad thing for this type of music. He may not have the biggest range, but he’s clearly very passionate about what he’s singing about, and his voice is pleasant to listen to. That’s not to say he doesn’t get his moments to shine, though. Throughout the EP, the band slows down a bit so Marshall’s vocals can take center stage, and he really holds his own. I also really like the backing vocals sprinkled throughout. They compliment Marshall really well and actually make the songs stand out more. For future releases, I’d like to see the band explore that loud-soft dynamic more so that Marshall can have even more time to shine. I’d also like to see Marshall push his range a bit more. That will likely come with more experience and confidence, but given how confident he already sounds, I’m sure that won’t be a problem.
If there’s one area I’m a bit more mixed on, it’s the lyrical content. I wanna make it clear right away, however, that it comes down more so to personal taste than it does to the quality of the songwriting. Marshall, also the band’s primary lyricist, said, “This EP is full of stuff that circulates my head daily. Everything from my own perceived lack of positivity, sanity, self-worth, ability, social and life skills… To examining and dissecting why I react the way I do when I’m confronted with a lot of situations, and questioning why and how I’m wired completely fucking wrong. There are some positive edges though – I try not to be overly negative, and I think there’s a lot of bizarre, twisted hope mangled in to all of that, which is important. I’ve written a lot of these songs about things that destroy me – mostly, myself – but the process of writing is so cathartic and therapeutic that I end up feeling a little better about things afterwards.” For the dark and gloomy vibe the band says they were going for, the lyrics definitely fit well, and they’re quite strong on a technical level. It’s just that I don’t see myself connecting with any of these songs on a deeper, personal level. There are certainly moments I do like, and I want to stress there’s nothing outright bad. I just feel largely indifferent. Like I said, though, they’re mainly just not for me, and there will surely be people who do connect with a lot of the lyrics on here, so I won’t say they’re outright bad or not worth your time.
Overall, with Reasons Not to Sleep, Miss Vincent deliver an EP that shows a lot of promise while still managing to stand on its own. Like I said in my intro, had I not been given the opportunity to write this review, I most likely would have never even listened to this. I’m glad I did, though, because while I wasn’t totally head over heals for this EP, these guys are definitely on my radar now, and I’m looking forward to what comes next.