A relatively new endeavour from NI hardcore scene veterans Niall, Andy and Wilson prior to new addition Mark. Although short, January’s two-song ‘Sad Songs’ EP showcases the self-styled ‘alternative emo’ outfit’s technical competence alongside their undeniably impressive energy.
At first glance, the title ‘Sad Songs’ is almost paradoxically set against Oisin Barr’s beautifully floral patterned cover art hinting that there is more to the short EP than the explicit title would lead us to think. The opening track ‘Daydreaming’ immediately captivates with explosive energy reminiscent of ‘Spring Songs’-era Title Fight that flirts between pop punk and hardcore. The aggressive yet restrained rhythm section holds steady until a brief instrumental break that allows the bass to introduce a pummeling breakdown. As for vocals, Niall’s steady, lethargic delivery balances against the electric enthusiasm of the instrumental giving the song a Sunny Day Real Estate flavour, and the emotionally charged catchy hook ‘why can’t I sleep at night’ sticks.
Aptly named follow-up ‘Polar’ turns this on its head, a slowcore piece that substitutes the fast tempo of the former with a slow-flowing, though nonetheless powerful, rhythm that allows the melodic sensibilities of Niall’s guitar line to shine through. Alternating between clean and over driven guitar tones the song nods to the band’s admitted Basement influences, snare rolls dissolve into heavy, krautrock-esque tom beats that are sure to draw blood live. This is tempered by Niall’s sedated voice that maintains an atmospherically morose tone throughout the song. Lyrically, the song is emotionally striking in its concrete simplicity “I walked home alone, I said my goodbyes.” Producer Chris Ryan’s work is notable when at the 3:18 mark the vocal line subtly melts into an electric organ which, although unconventional, shows a promising affinity for experimentation, bringing the short-but-sweet EP to a narcotizing close.
With this in mind, January’s upcoming headline show at The Eglantine Bar on 16th June is sure to be nothing short of a rubber-hitting-road display of one of NI’s best emerging hardcore bands talent.