London's Chemtrails burst on to my radar with "Aeons" a few months ago. If I had somehow not found the band because I was already following everything released by the fab PNKSLM label, I'd have surely encountered the group once I read about how great that single was. Well, it's here, along with 5 similarly great bits of indie on the five-piece's new Love in Toxic Wasteland EP, out Friday via PNKSLM.
If "Aeons" was an updating of shoegaze forms from some decades back, stuff like "Golden Tombs" and the interestingly-titled "Will of the Beast" are further refinements of elements offered up by the best so-called alternative acts of a previous age -- a Lush guitar hook in the one cut, a skewed Pixies-style melody line in another. The genius of the work of the crew in Chemtrails is that they make this all sound new and fresh. Hardly derivative at all, the tunes here positively crackle with energy and spark, mad jumbles of Primitives and Jesus and Mary Chain chord figures rush past atop beds of lyrics about some odd future full of toxic zombies or something.
The band -- Mia (guitar, vocals), Laura (guitar, vocals), Another Laura (bass, vocals), Ian (keyboard), and Sam (drums) -- crank out stuff that charms with a good deal of fuzzy pop wooziness and wit. The spry "I'd Like To Rule The Ice Age" sounds like nothing so much as Altered Images essaying a Mekons cut. The absolutely superb "Burnt Shadows" is all Glitter Band and Slade riffs amped up with a bit of Bolan cleverness had he somehow survived and lived to make music in a post-grunge world. Deliriously catchy, this material is unlike so much of what passes for indie these days, and yet it's certainly full of echoes of stuff from a few other eras. Rather than seem nostalgic, Chemtrails manage to stir this all up in a new way. The EP ends with the MGMT-ish title cut, all sci-fi-flavored words astride a punchy new wave-y beat.
Every single cut on Love in Toxic Wasteland is full of melody and inventiveness. This is fuzzed-out pop that races by in a blur of tunefulness and cheek. The soundtrack to a dystopian future perhaps, the 6 songs on their debut EP confirm the many current talents of Chemtrails.
[Photo: Chemtrails Facebook page, uncredited]