I’m never one to begrudge a band spreading their wings and embracing new styles. Sometimes it works, sometimes it just sounds like a genre band ‘doing styles’ – a hideous habit that should be left to the pop shitteratti with their legions of production-line songsmiths. Trippywicked’s pervious Acoustic Sessions comprised of a bunch of tracks from last year’s excellent Movin’ On rendered as minimalist accoustic vignettes. These well written songs survived the transition in fine form, but entertaining as Acoustic Sessions was the tracks lost some of their riff laden power rendering it a largely superfluous indulgence.
So it was with no little trepidation that I approached their new acoustic EP The Bleak – was this really going to be an exercise in Doom goes acoustic? It was quite a pleasant surprise to find The Bleak to be not only a perfectly natural transition on their melodic doom template, but a departure to another genre that is tangential to their riff hungry debut. Here we find stoner groove replaced with stripped back, melancholic fingerpicking overlayed with bittersweet melodies voiced with Pete Holland’s subtly idiosyncratic tenor. Doom metal this ain’t, but doomy it is. The Bleak (a title that sums up its contents quite capably) is more akin to Sea Change era Beck or Bill Callahan (aka Smog) at his most sparse and maudlin. The addition of subtle orchestral flourishes on final track Separate Paths hint at the melancholic plushness of Elbow or solo Mark Lanegan. Here simplistic melody and repetition reinforce a sense of isolation and introspection, and at times feels almost dronish, despite the brief length of these 4 tracks. This is an emotive and emersive experience and one that begs countless listens.
There will no doubt be cries of ‘hipster metal’ or Colplay wannabes, which is beside the point, as The Bleak is a seriously accomplished recording which will stand up against the pack, no matter which pack you compare it to. If you’re looking for the playful heaviness of Movin’ On, then you won’t find it here. This may be Trippywicked ‘doing styles’ or maybe The Bleak is merely a natural progression on their sound, either way it works marvelously and further solidifies them as one of the best underground bands out there at the moment and a contender for the big time. Now, if we could only get them to do something about their name…
The Bleak is available for pay what you want download here.