London quartet Es communicate a caustic brand of post-punk — paint stripped of any excess embellishment and set to rupture the rabble around them. Driven by laser-focused bass lines that don’t play well with their queasy synths, tension threatens to tear each and every track apart before it even reaches the speakers. Add in the vocal drill downs by Maria Cecilia Tedemalm and this record begins to drop a sinister shadow over 2020. The band released an EP a while back on vital underground siphon La Vida Es Un Mus, and their debut, Less of Everything doesn’t let up from the acerbic venom that they laid down in the short form. Guitars recoil from the sun, staggering through disjointed rhythms stricken with angular afflictions gone green around the edges. The drums are driving, but not insistent. The band knows how to play with the knife-edge of uneasiness, creating an environment where at any moment the ground shifts beneath the listener — tempos sideswipe each other, instruments devour one another — but the gleam in their eyes says they’re enjoying the upset.
The band picks at the scabs of the ‘70s, yet that doesn’t mean they don’t share some similarities with their concurrent peers. Shades of Flesh World, Hierophants, Naked on the Vague and even labelmates Sauna Youth (also recorded by Lindsay Corstorphine, behind the boards here) abound. This is dance music for the floor clearers, the kinds who revel in the end of the night noise that DJs seem to employ to get ‘em in the cabs. They seem to enjoy the disjointed dance they create — teeth gnashed but smiling with wicked glee at the corners of their mouths. Upset the Rhythm has a habit of finding the one’s that don’t fit neatly into the boxes genre creates and this year is no different. Es is yet another barbed offering from the label and one well worth sickening the speakers with this week.
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