By Katelyn Ankney
Merrick’s Tusk, a post-hardcore band with melodic and emo infusions, hail from the UK and have delivered us Regroup and Reform this week, a new EP with an explosive sound befitting this energetic ensemble. The band has been continuously compared to Jimmy Eat World and the likes of the early emo scene. Their latest release is no exception.
The first track, “25,” explodes with sound right off the bat, followed in swift order by the recognizable vocals of lead singer, John Jeacock. The sound immediately strikes me as a little less cohesive, possibly purposefully disjointed. It takes some steps away from their previously more melodic tunes. The vocals stand out over the heavy drums and riffing guitar, taking on a slightly lo-fi quality. From the mid-point of the track, things sort of ease on through the end of the song, like molasses, as the energy feels lacking. “Votary” is more of a slow burn. Rolling drums and fluid strings ease you in. Immediately this feels more thought-out than the previous. The vocals are more earnest and feel more authentic. Rather than floating as though a separate entity above the instrumentals, there is a marrying that brings a more progressive feel. You find yourself riding on the consistent beats and vulnerable lyrics, making “Votary” a gem and personal favorite on this album.
I find the energy that was missing on “25” to be infused in “Solitude.” This track cuts in with a nearly-bouncy beat. Merrick’s Tusk has a knack for infectious instrumentals, to be sure. Where vocals can be hit-or-miss and sparse at times, they make up for it musically. The track cuts off almost abruptly, with a slower introduction to “Old Ground.” With the fourth song on the album, I found myself yearning for something more, lyrically. The quality of Jeacock’s voice walks a fine line and can easily topple over into disjointed territory. Once again, the instrumentals prove to be their strong suit - solid and a cohesive backdrop to otherwise lackluster vocals.
“Kepler” offers some redemption. I found myself nostalgic for the local shows in church basements that I grew up with, in the best possible way. In “Kepler” is where I really discerned the emo-infused sound that filled the heart of a sixteen-year-old me around a decade ago. However, the sound falters somewhat on the final track, “The Hopeful.” The vocals are almost manic and disjointed. Things continue on in a frenzy until about 2:30, the inclusion of the violin brings you back to Merrick’s Tusk’s strong suit, as well as the layered vocals to follow. All in all, “The Hopeful” ends on a high note, and as well Regroup and Reform.
Though somewhat hit-or-miss throughout the EP, Merrick’s Tusk proves that the emo scene is still alive and well, with a lot to offer. Not quite hitting as high as Sonder, their newest effort still serves as an enjoyable listen, and solid entry into their discography. I’m interested and excited to see what the next chapter brings.