In a world of heartache, Salem have arrived to channel that pain into pleasure. The love child of Will Gould (Creeper) and Matthew Reynolds (ex-Howard’s Alias), their self-titled EP is the perfect soundtrack to Halloween.
Although careful not to spend too much time focused on the obvious link, it’s impossible not to hear an early Creeper matured. Certainly, the project is a revisiting of the members’ humble beginnings in DIY punk, and it rings this influence for every last drop of passion.
It’s authentic in not forcing authenticity, and without becoming drunk on nostalgia, Salem bestow upon their creation an air of refinery. They aren’t afraid to showcase their growth, and this fearlessness has made for a highly polished production that does little to detract from their ethos.
It’s Gould‘s unmistakable vocals and lyrical wit that makes it so recognisable, but when coupled with Reynolds‘ musical storytelling, it brings forth a titillating taste of something new.
Punchy opener ‘Fall Out Of Love’ is an immediate example, with its fusillade of influences coming together in a Salem shaped hail of bullets. Following on from this, it’s clear why ‘Destroy Me’ was selected as the debut single to introduce Salem to the world. Its thunderous yet melodic instrumentation creates a sense of familiarity, while lyrically it’s a perfect summary of the project, with the coupling of sex and death in lines such as “Bury me in bed with you / I want to hang helpless from your noose” appearing to be very on brand.
In proceeding tracks, the 60s element that bleeds through the fabric of the EP becomes more vibrant. The delightful ‘Eyesore’ especially reels like a quirky vintage horror film, while closer ‘Doomed (For Each Other)’ sounds at times like a The Beatles number after a can or two of Monster.
As already evidenced by Creeper, infusing different eras and genres can work like a dream. In experimenting with the balance between each sound, adding a sprig here and a dash there to the cauldron, Salem have conjured something truly magic.
People’s poet. Music and film blogger. South Park goth kid.