For a good fair few years now, Bristol’s Memory Of Elephants have been a safe bet for a joyful time music wise. As demonstrated with their two respective EP’s and their 2019 debut long play Beachballin’, the trio’s output is a chemical unison of the Labrador-like carefreeness of prog punk, the jazz like complexity of fluid math-rock and the reverb saturated nature of noise-rock. Invoking the serotonin dispensing warmth of fellow contemporaries such as Cleft, Body Hound, And So I Watch You From Afar and even self-titled era Pulled Apart By Horses, the group’s take on jubilant dissonance has awarded them with plaudits upon high and garnered them with a reputation for sugar fuelled energy both within the confines of the stage and on record.
With their established reputation in mind, the group’s new EP Dark Flannel see’s the band drive a great pickaxe into the bedrock that is their foundation. A three chaptered novella dedicated to the group’s shared love of confrontational punk, with this latest rampage Memory Of Elephants take the sidewinding riffs from their math-rock orientated work and trim the fat before injecting them with classified weapons-grade soviet steroids. The composed jazz inspired intricacies have been substituted for hulking heft and the aforementioned pooch-esque friendliness has been replaced with a snarling aggression associated with a particularly enraged prime bull. But even with the band’s newfound tenacity of channeling aggro sonic piledrivers, this it’s still evidently Memory Of Elephants. The technically remains, the hedonism shines through and Dark Flannel is abound to be adored by fans and newcomers alike.
There’s no subtle introduction to this new shade within Dark Flannel. ‘Dark Lunch’ introduces itself with scalping distortion prior to berserking with an all tearing riff, one that’s been sandblasted to the point of being callous and pocketed with lesions but one that’s still haplessly jubilant. There’s an early hardcore sentiment within the tone of the record – one more inclusive punk than beatdown focused. The fantastic ‘Utter Flannel’ demonstrates this wonderfully. Potentially one of the most irresistibly fun tracks Memory Of Elephants have ever dedicated to tape, the track see’s the band taking the adolescent horseplay of punk and channel it into erratic fretwork that jumps between math-rock bounce and punk aggravation. There’s a profound sense of rawness within these tracks, one that’s not blunting but one that exposes the inherent experimentalism and fun that is the very crux of Memory Of Elephants sound.
Granted, such a sense of musical celebration is by far more driven and galvanized in comparison to how it’s delivered within the aforementioned Beachballin’. It’s likely anyone delving into this EP in search of delicate reverb laden jazz composure will be left waiting. But still, Dark Flannel is a weighty and muscular slab of pure energized excitement that see’s this beloved band breaking new musical ground in a way that retains their core identity. It’s going to be interesting to see what their future second long play will contain, but going off the back of the closer that is a live session of ‘B.Y. Phenomenon’, it’s clear that the contents of Dark Flannel are going to be incitement for frenzied chaos once Memory Of Elephants take to the stage in the hopefully not too distant future.
Dark Flannel is self-released January 29th.