Words: Lloyd Bolton | Photo: Tatiana Pozuelo
English Teacher’s debut EP ‘Polyawkward’ is one of those rare releases that launches a group into contention to become a new favourite of the moment as they pursue or at least imply a wide range of musical possibilities. We are offered a well-conceived 5-track line up of songs full of personality that convincingly articulate a new sonic identity. The group take evident cues from Legss and early early Black Country, New Road in their hooks and builds but surely assert their own individuality beyond these starting points.
The outstanding ‘A55’ is perhaps the clearest example of this, showcasing English Teacher’s signature instinct for balancing tenderness and chaos. A self-assured riff struts into our headphones, joined by Lily Fontaine’s quietly confident opening lines ‘I see everything is good, I see everything and more’. Over the next few minutes, we are then gradually led towards an epic noisy climax, plateauing at last on a grand melody line that feels suddenly Persian. The group work well together to cultivate such moments throughout the EP, balancing each element of the sound and leaving room to appreciate each. ‘Mental Maths’ is a highlight in this regard, with the propulsive drumming of Douglas Frost brilliantly dictating the focus of the song, shifting its weight across sections.
Elsewhere, ‘Good Grief’ spotlights Nicholas Eden’s bass, built on a riff taken straight off a New York subway train. As a collection these songs reflect an admirable open-mindedness of approach. Centrepiece ‘Yorkshire Tapas’ cements this impression, comprising a poem followed by a jagged instrumental. Though the content and metre of that opening speech bear an unfortunate resemblance to a Spotify ad interruption, it is always exciting to see acts incorporating other sonic forms into their musical releases. ‘Polyawkward’ feels like the starting point of an exciting and adventurous musical career for this group, with one or two songs that already feel like future classics of their catalogue.