Art Class Sink
November 25, 2013 (New Level Music)
Having shared stages with the likes of Skaters and Temples it seems that Oxford-based four-piece Art Class Sink are well on their way to earning the same kind of recognition that the aforementioned found this year. And well they should. Having featured the band earlier in the year, I was eager to hear how far they've progressed in the six months since then and with the release of their most recent EP Illa, it's clear that the band have matured, tightened and built upon every aspect of their sound.
Beginning with 'She', the record begins with a moody and atmospheric aesthetic that feels like being welcomed back to familiar territory. Built almost entirely around impactive instrumentation, the track feels like a statement of intent, hinting at what's to come, and while it ends on a rather heavy note, the opening vocal melody of second track 'Time To Go' offsets the weight brought on by the ever-present freneticism of the drums.
'A Cry For Help', on the other hand, offsets the energy and relentlessness of the previous two tracks, replacing it with a sense of melancholy that, rather atypically, isn't juxtaposed against an inherent optimism Art Class Sink purport in other tracks. It's quite a restrained track, but it's a welcome restraint, providing some brief respite from their driving guitars and pounding percussion.
The crowning point of Illa however, it's zenith if you will, comes in the form of the final track 'Someone to Try For'. Featuring some seriously blissed out grooves, it's the band mellowing, as much as they can mellow, and is the perfect soundtrack to a festival evening, a couple of months the wrong side of summer.
With Illa, the band have expanded on a sound that was already head and shoulders above most of their contemporaries. A fusion of different ideas and aesthetics, the EP brings that many different aspects of Art Class Sink to the fore, it's difficult to even label it. Relaxed and laid back indie-pop is nestled in side by side with moodier tracks that are, in turn, fitted in perfectly next to shoegaze elements in a combination that one wouldn't think would work. It never feels erratic or disjointed though, and that's the beauty of it, the band manage to create a huge sense of space and of openness, whilst never lacking the drive nor energy to keep things interesting, definitely a band to watch out for as we go into 2014 and beyond.