With the Punks EP, The Upbeats have released the first new music of theirs I’ve been looking forward to since the De-Evolution series (and Re-Evolution mix collection.) The three EPs that made up De-Evolution had some mixed quality, but the best tracks instantly became regular fixtures on my playlists, so I was always going to be looking forward to whatever they would release in the future. I first heard about the Punks EP around the start of November, and through the various Twitter announcements I was able to catch a few previews from the EP on the Critical Music Soundcloud page. Of course, I had also pre-ordered the digital release of the EP, and after a bit of initial confusion (weird broken downloads and release date uncertainty – iTunes had the release date down as the 27th, Critical Music maintained that it would be released on the 24th), I’ve been able to see how the Punks EP compares to the other releases by The Upbeats…
Punks EP – Hold Down
The opening track of the Punks EP is Hold Down – a track that begins with eerie effects and a menacing build up with rolling drum hits and escalating tones… this then culminates in a slick catchy snare rhythm that’s layered on to the melody as more fills come and go and the track gains a greater sense of urgency. It tends to stick to the main themes that it establishes at the start of the track, and whilst that may not be great news if you weren’t that enthralled by the tone that was set, it’s not a bad way to open the EP. Just over halfway through the track there’s a nice breakdown which builds the beat back up, and whilst the playful rhythms persist throughout, the track never runs the risk of dragging on.
Punks EP – Oddity and Punks
What follows this opener is Oddity, a track that has one of the slower openings of the Punks EP. A fantastic steady beat is joined by meandering wobbly synths, giving a track a lack of urgency and a groovy vibe that keeps the head nodding. Despite the fact that I generally go for tracks with faster tempos (at least when it comes to my favourite tracks by The Upbeats), this combination of slow beats and understated wobbles is a great fit, and the keys that come in later complement the atmosphere of the track extremely well. The title track Punks then follows, and whilst I kind of spoiled this for myself by catching a preview that was tweeted out, it’s lost none of its appeal. It’s a faster track than Oddity but the fast beat and meaty melody sound excellent, especially during the build-ups and the moments where the main hook is altered and played with at times. The only downside I might point out is that it could probably lose a few repeated bars and still be as good.
Punks EP – Ethers
At four tracks long, the Punks EP is somewhat shorter than the De-Evolution releases, and so Ethers is the closing tune; it begins with lingering synths and a low-key bass noise to create a catchy sound, before breaking down and building back up to some rapid beats that contrast the slower effects that fade in and out. It generates a mood unlike the other tracks on the EP, and even plays with a new house-style rhythm a little bit in the middle… before there’s another build-up and it reverts to the original vibe that it had established earlier. In general, the Punks EP doesn’t have as many instantly catchy tracks as the De-Evolution releases, but each track has something memorable about it. If you enjoy the other Upbeats EPs, this is worth listening to.
The Punks EP is out now and can be purchased digitally on iTunes or on Critical Music. You can also stream the album on Spotify.