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That’s it, really. I could sum up this entire review with just one word, and it would do just as much as the 600 or so words I’m about to use to say exactly the same thing. Wow.
But before that, some background. Some readers may know me from I Probably Hate Your Band, and as it happens, I actually reviewed The Comfort’s song ‘Fair-weather‘ for that site. The long and short of it is this; brilliant songwriting, poor screams. So what did they do? They did the best thing they possibly could have done and dropped the weakest link – the screams – in favour of bolstering their undeniable mastery of hooks. And fuck me, is it ever an absolute blessing that they did that!
Liam Holmes and Dom Harper have outdone themselves here. Many musicians go their entire careers without really contributing anything of actual worth, outside of a bunch of rehashed tropes, and poorly executed ideas. Plenty of local bands emerge, bloom, and die, without so much as troubling the scorers, figuratively speaking. The Comfort have actually created something lasting, something beautiful, and something purposeful. The Comfort really have done themselves – and the title of musician, by extension – justice.
The instrumental components are all very pretty and whatnot, but it will suffice to say that everything is of an exemplary standard. What we really need to talk about is a couple of things that really take this EP from being simply ‘good’, to being somewhere in the lofty realms of ‘incredible’.
First of all, the vocals. Vocal duties are shared between the duo, with the softer, more reserved lines handled by Holmes, and the pushed chest belts are Harper’s forte, quite literally so. The interplay between the vocals, the light and shade, the wistful and plaintive, the sheer dynamic quality of the two, is utterly irresistible. I’m not sure I’ve heard a better use of two lead vocalists, not in the local tier anyway. The best part is that the voices are allied to absolutely gorgeous melodies, and the chorus hooks are downright monstrous. Every chorus on this EP is so goddamned memorable, it becomes almost difficult to pick a standout track, but we’ll get to that later.
Secondly, the pacing of ‘Love‘ is just perfect. Banger – Banger – Reflective – Banger – Reflective – Reflective BANGER. In just 26 minutes, The Comfort manage to take you through the full gamut of what it truly means to love, to be loved, and all of the vagaries of life’s greatest paradox. Holmes and Harper fundamentally understand the human experience, and it is just a joy to behold as they weave that knowledge into every facet of this little twenty-minutes-and-change bundle of awesome.
Thirdly, and this is easily the most important of the lot because, without it, none of the songs would have the impact they do. It’s actually astounding how many bands there are nowadays that do not understand the concept of tension and release, but I can comfortably state that The Comfort are not one of them. The entire EP is chock full of great examples, but for me, the best one is ‘Deprime‘. Oh boy, ‘Deprime‘.
You know how I said that it’s almost difficult to pick a highlight? Yeah, well, ‘Deprime‘ is. No question. It is a very, very rare thing for me to get goosebumps listening to music. When the first verse section ends, with Holmes‘ creamy timbre oozing an anxious quality that sucks you in, a couple of things happen. First, we get the tension of the instrumental build up. Then we get the lower octave version of the chorus lyrics. Then we get a drum crescendo that just…stops. Silence. Space. A breath. And then BOOM! That insane pushed chest voice punches you in the guts with the full weight of Harper’s hurt, all delivered in exactly the best way to grant full effect. Goosebumps, fucking everywhere. That’s the money shot, right there. If you want to listen to a perfect execution of tension and release in music, then I urge you to give ‘Deprime‘ at the very least a spin, although you’d be a complete and utter nutter not to listen to the whole thing.
I could probably go on for days on end, and lord knows that a few people have already heard me wax lyrical on this masterpiece, and probably wondered when I would just shut the fuck up. But the thing is, I do genuinely get excited when I hear something this good because it’s just so bloody rare. Everything is so well done, from the production (STL Studios, yet again), to the song crafting, to the execution; it all just comes together in a way that is incredibly difficult to fault. I’ve listened to ‘Love’ about 15 or more times from start to finish, and I am stumped.
Simply put, Polaris and The Great City have some serious competition for best Australian EP of 2016, and I can’t wait to see if anything else will even come close for the rest of the year because I’m finding it really hard to believe that anything else could.
Love & Other Drugs