I'm a little late to the party with Canada's alt rock quintet SELFISH THINGS but hey I've arrived. The EP ‘Vertical Love’ is out now and the main theme is an inner struggle with the concepts of religion, fate and free will. Biro started out as a solo artist before forming the band and has poured his heart and soul into the 6 tracks, waxing lyrical about love, God, and even the very beautiful Matthew McConaughey.
The first track is all kinds of awesomeness; alt rock heaven with double bass kicks, a killer hook, ballsy riffs, and a powerful and compelling vocal. '8147 Mulholland Terrace' is an indelible track writing the name SELFISH THINGS in my mind with Sharpie. What stands out for me is the chorus and, around the 2 minute mark, the slow instrumental interlude before the song reaches a climactic end. Emo-punk pop at its best.
'Rust Cohle Never Sleeps', which references the cynical detective from the True Detective series (Mr McConaughey), opens with keys accompanied by a heavy drum beat - lightness and dark - in a deep and thought-provoking track; “God isn’t here, he left us all to live alone and live in fear”. It's sombre but not depressing and not as fatalistic as perhaps it sounds here. Again there is a soaring chorus which brings life to the track - "Heaven save me, I am going crazy" - and some spicy guitar work which adds weight.
'Without You' is a softer track with a haunting keyboard intro and is acoustic guitar-led alongside a thick, slightly grittier vocal. This different style isn't what I expected but the song wakes up after 1:40 when the chorus picks up intensity and there is some impressive layering after 2:30. I have to admit I prefer the more melodic vocal on Biro but that's just personal preference. This slower pace track is perfectly placed on the EP.
The lyrical wordsmith strikes again with angst-ridden 'Five Years'. Wonderfully emotive instrumentals accompany us as the lyrics take us on a sojourn through more of Biro's thoughts and musings. The lyrics are truly sorrowful, and the timbre melancholic in places, which add to the draw of the track. True to form the song climbs towards the chorus and it features some killer instrumentals, especially at the 2 and a half minute mark. Absorbing lyrics and captivating vocals against a backdrop of stunning music.
'Hangman' has that delicious slow build which adds intrigue and suspense, Biro's dulcet vocals dripping with attitude and passion, as the song ascends to a choir-like chorus. This is fresh and clever, the instrumentals sucker-punch you, and it's downright bloody gorgeous. AND…there's a lush guitar solo! This track for me, resonates what the EP is, in essence, beautiful music with a conscience. Best on the EP in my opinion. Love love love it.
The final track, '1435', is a gentle, reflective ballad, a pure love song about how much this guy adores another person; "without your love I'm nothing but skin and bone and hate". It's stripped back and piano-led for the first part, pairing beautifully with the emotional and convincing vocal, and when the band joins in the track picks up a little pace. A modern love song, simple yet effective, to close an impressive EP.
Each track on the EP brings something different, nothing is samey, and all have a slightly different theme or take on life, courtesy of some profound lyrics, eloquently and passionately delivered, and superb instrumentals. For fans of MCR, You Me At Six.
8147 Mulholland Terrace
Rust Cohle Never Sleeps
Alex Biro (Vocals/Piano/Guitar)
Cam Snooks (Rhythm Guitar)
Michael Ticar (Lead Guitar)
Burton Lavery (Bass)
Jordan Trask (Drums)