Undercover Martians release debut EP 'Jigsaw'
Updated: Nov 10, 2022
North West Ireland indie quartet deliver their questioning, coming of age EP. Do the pieces fit together? Jonah Hoy investigates.
Band: Undercover Martians
Released: November 4 2022
Melancholy and melodic, upbeat mid-youth existential dread is packed into the new EP, Jigsaw by Undercover Martians. The songs in the EP were written between 2018 and 2021 and you can hear the existential pandemic chaos in their lyrics.
With an unrelenting sound, and the feel of a garage with a studio's production quality, Undercover Martians keep a tight and rhythmic sound which puts you in mind of something you would hear after the New Wave and Punk explosion in 1980s CBGBs.
Five songs and all with a different story to tell but the overall theme is of early 20-something loneliness, the kind people feel when trying to fit into the world. Not angry enough to be screaming but hurt enough to bleed all over the microphone. Their punk tones shine through with McGloin's vocals, where his nasally and nonchalant approach gives you 'too exhausted to try', as the world makes you feel all alone.
One vital thing is their rhythm section; each song takes on a different approach, where you can hear the versatility in the musicians' tool belt. The first track, All My Friends, an ode to feeling like you're going insane, has a chug and drive of such melodic and pretty guitar chords and sections that deliver a silver-like texture, shiny, smooth and abundant. Rock and Roll creates a feeling of them pulling out their influences; it feels like a Rolling Stones song that got put through the compressor and out came a new wave punk ballad off the conveyor belt.
Alternative as they are, they stick out with this almost whiny, shiny and glossy texture. The drum beats are simple and stay on pace for you to keep a beat, but the guitar melodies and little quirks of solos fill each song and really line up with the vocals. They give a filtered harmonising feel to the songs which make them unique in their sound.
Initially, the songs and this project were supposed to be more punk-infused, but as the pandemic hit, Undercover Martians decided to tighten and evolve their sound. It still has the feeling of being in a dingy garage and the attitude of snarling into the microphone over a crowd of bohemians. But there's a passive aggressiveness to it. It is not violent or in your face, more pleading as if someone is having a moment to themselves and yelling to God or at themselves about the world not letting them in.
They keep you on your toes by placing you into the space where you see the dread and lonely feelings around you. They create this touch of static which is unhappy about things but with a vigour, not of anger but nonchalant strides towards the explosion.
EPs of punk and alternative rock have two modes. Whereas punk is screaming and jumping headfirst into danger, almost seeking it, alternative indie has this stay back, curl up away from the explosion and try to hide vibe. Undercover Martians have a stoic sadness to them, where they empathise with the hell that is finding out exactly who you are. The bullets, shrapnel and debris destroy everything in their path instead of diving or cowering. They accept fate and the cards laid out and stride, not rushing, not lagging but gradually towards either doom or paradise. But getting there whenever they get there.
Undercover Martian's EP Jigsaw comes out on November 4th - definitely check it out if you like the silver, sweet sounds of the unrelenting dread of mid-youth wandering.
Find a previous UM track, Francesca, on this compilation vinyl album
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