Rivet City – Tarmac Parables – EP Review
Some of the greatest story tellers have looked to the wonders of the world around them to construct their tales and inspire their audiences. Aesop’s fables used the animal kingdom to show us all the difference between right and wrong. Grimm’s fairy tales combined humanity with nature in order to teach us never to trust old women with houses in the forest. Now, add to that list Rivet City’s Tarmac Parables, which scours the streets of Manchester to pay homage to a city which proves the inherent beauty of its urban landscape in the most minute, unique ways. With the crisp and resonating sounds of their debut EP, the five-piece have asserted themselves as one of the North’s most distinct-sounding and promising bands.
The EP’s opening track, ‘Forget The Weather’, introduces you to Rivet City’s most-effective weapon: its clean-cut, goose bump-inducing lead guitar. Sliding and bending his way around some high-pitched scales, Dave Harcup’s slick pickings lead the song like a classical conductor on ecstasy. It’s beautifully balanced, showing the band’s confidence in relying on the quality of their riffs rather than resorting to clashing sounds or simple chord progressions. Following in the footsteps of classic Mancunian tracks like the Stone Roses’ ‘Waterfall’, ‘Forget The Weather’ is a song that makes you want to tear off your shirt and enjoy the fresh city air, whether sun, rain or snow.
Second track, ‘Satin’, darkens proceedings. Dean Hemmings’ alteration between utilising floating guitar chords which almost whisper in the verse, and grungy distorted thrashings which wail in the chorus, indicate Rivet City’s ability to hook you just as easily when they’re showing restraint and when they’re at full volume. With its brave disruptions in rhythm, as well as its avoidance of a generic song structure, ‘Satin’ is held together by the most devilishly fragile of strings; it all feels like it could snap at any minute. But it never does, and it is this suspense which makes it such divine listening.
The inclusion of Rivet City’s second single, ‘The Watcher’, races out of the steady pace Tarmac Parables has set so far. Lead singer Jake Breeze shows off his lyrical prowess, speedily reeling off intertwining lines about last dances in rooms full of mannequins and stealing weeds from lands that are arable. That’s not to say that the vocals steal the show, though. The instrumental and rhythm sections instil within ‘The Watcher’ a groove that allows its relentless vocals to shine. This is Rivet City’s anthem; the song that makes you want to see how their smooth recordings correlate to their energetic live performances, the song that will keep you nodding your head long after the gig has finished – if you were lucky enough to grab a ticket, that is.
After the dizziness of ‘The Watcher’, ‘Tall Homes’ provides a merciful breather. With its lulling and reserved nature, this fourth track allows you to lay back and soak in the intricate soundscapes that have previously raced past. The falsettos of the chorus are delectable, exhibiting a surprising element to Breeze’s vocal range. Added to this, the introspective music video to ‘Tall Homes’ is as beautiful as the enchanting melodies it accompanies. With a real independent film-maker feel about it, the video cuts right to the core of Rivet City’s ethos: home-grown, authentic artistic talent.
The temporary respite provided by ‘Tall Homes’ becomes all to necessary when you finally make your way to Tarmac Parables’ closing track, ‘Watch The World’. While the rest of the EP is relatively contained, this climactic finale throws away the script in favour of just losing its shit. This allows for Jonathan Ibram to really let loose on his by-now-battered drum kit, experimenting with more syncopated rhythms to conclude the EP with some hard-hitting edge. On bass, Oliver Pomfret refuses to take the easy way out, maintaining his penchant for funk-inspired basslines which have powered the EP throughout. Reaching a cacophony in it’s final moments, ‘Watch The World’ leaves you in no doubt as to the maturity of what you’ve just heard.
Tarmac Parables has come just in time for summer. It’s a perfect reminder as to the vast musical talent available to us if we choose to make that all important scratch below the surface. Rivet City are a band that deserve to have their parables etched, not upon the tarmac beneath our feet, but across the blue Manchester skies we daily look up to.