Some bands take a while to harness their sound. Debut offerings, be it EPs or albums, are often varied in style and contain a plethora of ideas that have been percolating for a number of years and can either display a band full of ideas or a band throwing mud at the wall to see what sticks.
More often than not, that occurs over a choice of hand-picked songs designed to demonstrate their diversity. In Pottery’s case, they demonstrate it over a matter of minutes. No. 1 is a furiously frantic journey, opener Smooth Operator is naught more than an instrumental, the drumming full of fills reminiscent of Humbug-era Arctic Monkeys, bristling with the scrape of funk guitars which build the mood before they clang as intensity kicks in.
Hank Williams, despite the title, sounds like Britpop Blur at their most Kinks with a bassline that prods you in the ribs. Meanwhile, second track Spell has a chiming guitar intro which could be eighties Edge but then turns on its head to broaden its palette into more all-encompassing post-punk. It’s only two minutes but must be exhausting to play.
That must be true of all songs on the EP. The listener is certainly never allowed to rest on their laurels. It’s elaborate to the point of indulgent, with lots of drum fills, leaps up and down the bass fret and vocal ticks. In truth, it does cover up a paucity of melody but there’s little time to dwell on that as the music never sits still for more than ten seconds, with the vocals given very little if any time. The band describe themselves as garage but they doing a dis-service; there is real musical dexterity at work, even if it is untamed.
George Harrison would be proud of the guitar licks on Lady Solinas, while The Craft once again channels the vaudeville nature of The Kinks but with an urgent tempo that is fortunately intermittent. It’s a fairground ride of a song. No-one, possibly the band least of all, can predict where these songs are going. All are opuses, but special mention must go to Worked Up which starts as a louche jam but descends into an overweight, bass driven epic. We go to for a quick jaunt around the world before ending up where we started for the last thirty seconds which recall the opening, but manage to sound nothing like which immediately comes before it. So immersive is the song that to come back around again is startling.
But that’s nothing compared to closer Lifeline Costume, which is basically a distillation of every track that has every appeared on a Nuggets compilation. Arguably the most exhausting eight minutes ever committed to tape, it flies out of the traps with feverish instrumentation, goes everywhere from the dark alleyways to the wheat fields, up to Mars and then back again. How we are expected to keep up when it sounds like the band barely are is anyone’s guess.
Like rest of this EP, it’s brilliantly bonkers.