EP REVIEW by Martha Munro

Love and lividity; screams and sentiments; distortion and flow; with just six tracks, Something More epitomises the wild, iron-wrought, youthful musical personality of 2015 -born English rock band HeadAche. With two studio albums and three EPs already under their belt, the group wrote, recorded and produced their latest EP entirely by themselves and the final product was a kaleidoscopic success, released 3rd May 2024. Lovers of Green Day, Blink-182 and Fall Out Boy – you’re going to want to hear this.

The EP smashes into a start with lead single AfterParty. With just the simple dialogue of voice and guitar, the introduction of the song provides an exciting sense of initial anticipation for the entire body of work, a beat waiting to drop; and it doesn’t disappoint when it does. With a grinding first breath in, the thunderous, amped-up bass, brought to life by Jay Majer, pairs with the easily-recognisable, rock-foundation drum beat from Leon Parsons to kickstart a strong and angsty first verse. The track moves quickly into its pre-chorus, providing us with some sonic contrast by employing a more electronic quality. This mash-up of dimensions – traditional punk rock with 2010s-esque pop – is a core element of Something More, heightened in this opening track to establish a defining, consistent, yet never boring sound. The raunchy lyrics only add to this and are sung with a smooth quality at points, a rougher one at others. Every element of AfterParty gives an unmissable sense of liberation, beginning the EP with a wild first impression.

Immediately following AfterParty is the instantly more electronic-sounding track Higher and it certainly maintains high energy throughout. Through the intro, a background of radio-static voice is used to layer up the front-and-centre synth element. Here the use of the synthesiser, echoes and vocoder harmonies by vocalist-guitarists Michael Button and Johnny Bannister establishes the song’s more techno sound. But the music’s rock quality is by no means lost. The guitar riffs remain earthy and full of power-chord-pummelled grit, not to mention the metal-esque screaming that enters this complex journey of sound towards the end of the song. It’s clear that these vocals are what really make this track so cohesive, encompassing all elements of Something More and indeed of HeadAche’s style altogether.

Next up is the nostalgic number Back In Time. This mid-mix track has both a sonic and emotional sense of fullness and achieves this through its universally relatable lyrics. It’s almost as if the words have come from the band members years prior since they so perfectly encapsulate the turbulence of teenage life, with lines such as “It’s a beautiful journey“. These lyrical sentiments neutralise the aggression of the earthy bass and high-impact guitar, creating a track that never loses your interest. The work of every band member is distinct, yet cohesive; Button and Bannister formed the band in 2015, with Majer and Parsons joining in early 2016. This song – and this entire EP – is a clear indication of the unique sound they’ve been able to find together over eight years of collaboration.

Fourth track Crystallising provides a more open sound overall, breaking from the intensity of the first half of Something More. With the crystal-clear guitar riff that arches over almost the entire song, an angelic quality enters this body of work. Button and Bannister’s powerful harmonies and strong voices amplify their lyrical communication of the human experience, coupling with the depth of Majer’s bass patterns to display a clash of love and emotions. The anticipatory crescendo we’ve seen used so often already throughout the EP comes into play again here, this time employing an instrumental break to build tension – and the climax is certainly worth it. The familiar guitar riff returns as a build up before the smash of Parsons’ drums catapults us into a whirlwind of sound for the final chorus. This is a harmonious combination of all the song’s elements. The cohesion present throughout comes to its heavenly height.

Now for Something More, the title track. This song has a considerably longer introduction than the previous numbers, establishing its stand-out quality with both instrumental and electronic layers. While the computer-generated strings don’t harbour the same fullness as the real thing, the inclusion of elements like a wind chime effect give this section a filling-up feeling. The open sound from Crystallising is continued through this next song, encapsulated in the spacey guitar which is reminiscent of The Cure in its sliding, catchy, smooth motifs. It takes on a counter-melodious role in an atmospheric guitar solo moving towards and throughout the final chorus and once again, the layered vocals create a mosaic of echoing sound. The edginess of the heavy bass additions contrasts the more sensitive story told through the lyrics, yet again speaking profoundly on the human experience, particularly on human connection, independence and place in the world: “don’t wanna be ordinary”. Well, HeadAche clearly have nothing to fear in this regard. Their clear appreciation and inclusion of different genres, styles and messages sets them apart in the modern rock world.

And this couldn’t be more true for the absolute smasher of a closing track, In The Dark, a song brimming with metallic, mosh pit madness. Any mellow elements previously heard are completely eliminated to bring Something More to its thrilling, thrashing destination. The high-intensity drum rhythms from Majer are the foundation of the wild punk rock expression here, heightened by the crazed screaming, smooth rapping and intermittent whooping from the energised Button and Bannister. All supporting elements come to the forefront as the song continues, creating an angsty climax that leaves nothing to the listener’s imagination.

After just a few listens to Something More, every energy-pumped track becomes an earworm and every aspect feels fresh and yet nostalgic. HeadAche have that quality that feels like a live concert in your headphones, lights flashing, heads banging, shoes sticking to the floor as the crowd bounces as one. But the meaningful messages put across throughout are by no means subordinated: threads of tenderness woven through a wild tapestry of sound. If you’re in need of a morning power-boost, this EP is the one to play. 

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