Eagulls @ Brudenell Social Club

Posted by vibrations on 23-05-16

Eagulls are back, and with just a whistle-stop, five date UK tour to promote second album ‘Ullages’, where else would the local heroes’ launch night be, but their beloved Brudenell Social Club. It’s fair to suggest that Eagulls have all but outgrown this venue, but it’s testament to their their oft-proclaimed affection for the place that they continue to play here. 
Tonight the Brudenell is packed, a feat that is perhaps unsurprising given the phenomenal reception of their eponymous debut in 2014 and the subsequent leaps and bounds into critical acclaim, via an NME award for best video, and an infamous performance on USA primetime chat show, David Letterman. After a short hiatus from playing in Leeds, the sold out crowd proves the indelible mark made by the impressive five-piece.
So then, with high expectations at the juncture of what could have been the “difficult second album”, the band are keen to achieve a change of pace, which offers a breadth and dexterity beyond the relentlessly pummelling fury of the first. There is a definite progression to the sound tonight, and although the show doesn’t lack the band’s characteristic energy, the new music feels more considered and reflective, delivered by a band who are no longer running on hungry adrenalin, but instead valid self-assurance. Dare we say it, they’re all grown up. 
In keeping with Eagulls trademark use of dark and twisted imagery, sinister projections fill the backdrop throughout the show, transporting you delightfully into the underbelly of the band, and you can’t help but feel you’ve landed somewhere in the depths of the Eagulls subconscious.
There are obvious comparisons to be made to the 80s British new-wave cannon - and in particular middle-era The Cure. In the inevitably changing landscape of Eagulls music, we’re brought into a world of surrealist, thoughtful noir-pop, with poignant lyrics and flourishing guitar parts. Highlights of the new album include new single, My Life in Rewind, a beautiful gothic daydream of gorgeous, textured guitar layers and melancholic lyrics; moody, chugging ‘Skipping’ is full of dark intensity; and ‘Velvet’ offers respite in the form of a luscious, bittersweet, soporific pop piece.
As accomplished as the new music is, a rendition of early single ‘Nerve Endings’ re-ignites something in the audience and generates a frantic speight of crowd surfing, a welcome hark back to the post-punk acerbity that we have come to know and love the Eagulls for.

Katharine Hartley