Hailing from east London, Great Cynics, have created a buzz across the pond, here in the US. They started as a solo acoustic project by Giles Bidder under the name Cynics. The expansion to a three piece happened as they recorded their debut album,Don’t Need Much (released June of 2011). I must admit that I wasn’t familiar with the solo work, but this incarnation of Great Cynics, with Iona Cairns on bass and Bob Barrett on drums, solidly rocks.
They have just released a three song EP, In The Valley, on Tuesday. Though all the tracks in In The Valley have been released acoustically prior to this record, they have taken on a different life on this recording.
Clocking in under two minutes, track one, In The Valley, establishes itself as one of Great Cynics best tracks. It is upbeat, full, and positive. The music and vocals are the perfect balance of intensity and fun that it will immediately liven your spirits and inspire you to move around. Bidder’s voice is gravely and crooning at the same time which has a mesmerizing effect. After you are already psyched on this track, the female vocals unexpectedly come in and take it to another level. If that wasn’t enough to distinguish this track, Bidder’s vocals come back in and the layering creates a sing along verse. The lyrics show their love and admiration for the power of music, “Listen to 45s that play like 33s”. That simple, quaint, and clever line succinctly evokes a nostalgia for all the 7” releases of local bands.
The music on track two, 14 Coleman St, lets the vocals take center stage. I am a big fan of the scratchy almost hoarse voice as he sings, “My throat hurts is hurting because / I’ve been singing”. The mirroring of voice and lyrical content could have easily drifted into the forced category, but they pull it off. The quiet fade out was a bit of a surprise and gives a rather intense ending to a song about couch surfing and late night snack runs.
Track three, You’re Alright, has a slight folky feel and is closer to the acoustic roots than the other two songs on the EP. The track’s intensity waxes and wanes between moments full of vigor and moments of quiet breakdowns. The different levels work really well together, each complimenting and highlighting the other.
Along with this EP, Great Cynics have released a video for the title track, In The Valley. The video is a great representation of the feeling their music conveys, it is all shows, skateboards, and silly band footage.
And lastly, I have to comment on the packaging of the EP, the blue tone cover of kids on a set of stairs instantly pays subtle homage to Minor Threat. In the spirit of all great vinyl releases, the first pressing of this EP is a run of 500 on Coke bottle clear vinyl. Check out Kind of Like Records to secure your copy.