‘Cigarettes’. ‘Tea’. ‘Coffee’. Reading the track names for Whammy Jar Elixers‘ EP feels like scanning through a sixties shopping list (incidentally, there is also a song called ‘1968’).
Recorded themselves, the do-it-yourself aesthetic suits the music of WJE – heavy but harmonious, muscular but open, modern but vintage. There’s furtile turf being covered, most notably in the opener ‘Tea’, which serves up something of a musical red herring – beginning with a laconic, surf-wave riff, all of a sudden the waves roll in through the medium of mutant drums, blazing distortion and some taut bass work.
At seven tracks long, Whammy Jar Elixers does run the risk of falling into a self-indulgent stupor, but luckily there’s enough variation here to keep the interest levels high. On the more eerie ‘1968’, a Parisian jangle is matched with an atmospheric Interpol coda as the singer does his best Bobby Gillespie drawl.
They allow for more growth in the closing ‘Strange’, which clocks up at an exhaustive 10 minutes but explores the space well, channeling spiky indie motifs, jangly alternative and a surfing surge that’s as refreshing as it is relentless.