Evans the Death

The Best UK No. 1’s of 2016 (posted April 2017)

Right, let’s finally finish 2016! Only four months late! Then move onto Ed Sheeran! Oh God, pop music is torture!

Special Mentions

‘Paradise’ – Charli XCX


A staggeringly gonzo bricolage of 90’s rave tropes, all turned inside out and formed into a club smash that’s romantic, exciting, alien and more. I didn’t enjoy a single song in 2016 as much as I enjoyed this.

‘Suitcase Jimmy’ – Evans the Death


Evans the Death continue to be my favourite British band going at the moment. Their latest album – Vanilla – was recorded on a barge using guest musicians they found on Facebook, continuing to both diversify of their sound and increase the anger in their work. A particular highlight of the album is Suitcase Jimmy: a stonking barrage of trumpets and shouting which would be the defining sound of British Indie if only I had my way.

‘Madeleine Crumbles’ – Major Parkinson


A beautiful nightmare; all sweeping violins, ethereal choruses and gritty verses. It’s parent album can’t come soon enough.

‘Higher’ – Carly Rae Jepsen


I didn’t start listening to Carly Ray Jepsen’s Emotion album until early 2016, meaning that it missed out on being included in my Best of 2015 list. I’ve always been slightly ashamed of this: the album’s great. Luckily, Jepsen’s 2016 appendum – Emotion Side B – is just as good as it’s big sister, even if it doesn’t quite hit the same heights. ‘Higher’ probably comes closest to those highs, hence why it’s on the list, though shout-outs have to go to the songs ‘First Time’, ‘The One’, ‘Body Language’, ‘Cry’, ‘Store’… hell, all of them. Everything gets a shout out. Carly Rae Jepsen’s the best.

‘Same’ – Clarence Clarity


Clarence Clarity specialises in throwing discordant noises, random computer sounds and distorted voices together into labyrinthine messes that somehow work as solid, cathartic pop songs. Same is technically the B-side to his single Vapid Feels Are Vapid but I prefer it, so on the list it goes.

‘Stained’ – HMLTD


A baroque piece of 80’s throwback goth electro, married to an actively tasteless aesthetic which combines The Damned and Bauhaus into something distinctively new. Its music video also wins the prize for most disgusting of 2016, so you know the band’s doing something right.

‘Ain’t It Funny?’ – Danny Brown


Maybe funny’s not the right term: boisterous, demented, trumpet-filled and swinging are better. The most enjoyable rap track of 2016 for me.

‘Me And Your Mama’ – Childish Gambino


An immense two-part soul throwback featuring intense vocals, biblical gospel backing, meaty instrumentation, and the most delightfully childish name of the year. An astonishingly fun track with some real impact behind it.

‘One Call Away’ – Charlie Puth


What can I say, this song just gets me. Is it trite, cheesy and overly earnest? Yes, it is. I love it.
[Listen] [Original Review]

And now the list itself:

#5 – ‘Love Yourself’ by Justin Bieber


This is my least favourite song of Bieber’s ‘Actually Quite Good Phase’, coming well under both What Do You Mean? and Sorry in my estimations. Unfortunately, due to the absolute dirth of No. 1’s in 2016, the number five slot either had to go to this or Cold Water by Major Lazer, Justin Bieber and MØ. I can’t remember what Cold Water sounds like, despite the fact that I last listened to it five minutes ago. Love Yourself it is.

#4 – ‘Shout Out to my Ex’ by Little Mix


Easily the least interesting song Little Mix has ever released. As previously explained, it’s little more than “an repeat of Love Me Like You, which in turn was a repeat of Black Magic, only without the magic bits”. Love Me Like You and Black Magic are both fantastic hits though; being a direct retread of them still means that you’re a pretty good pop song, particularly given how joyless everything else was that year. Little Mix on autopilot is still better than almost everything else in the pop scene; that’s how good a band they are.

#3 – ‘I Took a Pill in Ibiza (Seeb Remix)’ by Mike Posner


It grew on me. Though I’m still convinced that the remix instrumental completely misses the point of the song, I can’t deny that it sounds wonderfully atmospheric, resulting in the minimalist pop hit of early 2016 that was the easiest to lose yourself in. This became the song that I most enjoyed listening to in the first half of the year; at least, it was light years ahead of it’s nearest contemporaries Stitches and 7 Years.

#2 – ‘Rockabye’ by Clean Bandit feat. Anne-Marie and Sean Paul


Possibly Clean Bandit’s best song, combining their trademark pristine instrumentation with a solid tale of single motherhood and female strength. Even Sean Paul is used to the best of his abilities, being slotted into the background so as to provide pretty vital backing vocals. A fully fleshed out and realised track: at last, Clean Bandit have a song that feels worthy of them.

#1 – ‘Closer’ by The Chainsmokers feat. Halsey


Yeah, it’s a failed mess, but it’s exactly the type of failed mess we need right now. The Chainsmokers are not good artists but, for just one track, they managed to accidentally hit gold, producing the track that most encompassed what 2016 was – for better and for worse.

Right then Ed Sheeran, I’m coming for you!


Album Review: “Expect Delays” by Evans the Death


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.