Album Review: “Expect Delays” by Evans the Death

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In most oral histories of any genre that means something (rock ‘n’ roll, electronica, rap, grunge, etc), it won’t be long until you hear some variation on this anecdote: “I remember when I first heard this sound. It didn’t sound like anything my parents listened to. No, it sounded like music made for the young. It sounded like music made for us.”

I can go one step beyond that: I remember the first time I heard Evans the Death and it sounded like they were making music specifically for me. Their first album is, in my opinion, perfect. Squealing into life from the first seconds of Bo Diddley, it is a collection of self-hating rants taken from a 20-something’s quarter-life crisis, condensed into a fast paced hodge-podge of blazing guitar riffs, bumpy basslines and Katherine Walker’s vocals (which is some wonderful variation on a terrified shriek; it’s beautiful). The lyrics in particular appear to have been taken directly from my thoughts. Last but not least: they’re called Evans the Death and my surname is Evans. This is my band playing music for me. I fucking love this album – it’s feels like part of my DNA. If their first album had been released in the 70’s, people would currently be wearing it on their t-shirts; it’s that good.

Their follow up album (Expect Delays; released earlier this month) has quite a legacy to live up to then, at least for me. And indeed, a lot of the album seems like more of the same: vaguely existential lyrics about how much it sucks to be young mixed with heavy guitar chords and general messiness all round. The album opener in particular (Intrinsic Grey) is the perfect example of Evans the Death doing what they do best: Walker complains about how she’ll “never be anyone else”, then in come the drums and guitar and things rock out before everything loses control and descends into plain discordant noise, then an alternative version of the chorus comes out of nowhere and the piece eventually manages to reform itself just in time to lead to track two – everything just careens in and out of control of itself and the result is cathartic as hell.

Other highlights include Expect Delays (the chorus of which strikes me as wonderful for a reason I’m still not sure I understand), Bad Year (with a chorus that sounds like Walker’s singing “I’ve had a baby”, a lyric that I prefer to actual one) and Don’t Laugh at my Angry Face (possibly my favourite song on the album; an unfathomable maelstrom of a track that switches from walls of noise to guitar riffs to silence endlessly).

If I have to be honest though, I think I still prefer their first album to this one. If I was to compare the sounds of the two, I’d describe Expect Delays as being noisier, by which I mean this album literally had more elements in it that are just noise. I’ve already talked about how Intrinsic Grey and Don’t Laugh at my Angry Face use those types of passages to their advantage but this fixation with noise can also be heard in the songs which start and end with studio chatter and TV broadcasts. Of particular note is the extended guitar note that plays over the entire second chorus of Just 60,000 More Days ‘Til I Die, something which I don’t think would be there had the song been recorded for the first album.

The result is that Expect Delays is a much less immediate album than it’s predecessor is; it takes more listens and more effort to get past the general fuzz and to the core of the songs. The reason I love their first album so much is because I identified with it so effortlessly – it just overcame me and became me. Luckily for Expect Delays though, the songs on it are still bloody good and if they require more effort, then they also deeply deserve it.

So yeah, buy this album. Buy their previous album. Buy tickets to their live shows. Support these people and keep them going. They are a great band with two great albums. I want to grow old with them. I want to be 40 and have a new Evans the Death release complaining about being middle aged and I want to listen to them and I want to go “Yeah, they’re right. They get it.” If I don’t have that, then being middle aged really will suck.

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