Many bands will be reaching into their archives during lockdown, and Brighton post-hardcore outfit We Never Learned To Live have given fans a treat in the form of a new compilation EP, ‘Ode’.
We have before us the contents of their 2015 Maida Vale session, as well as an unearthed song which this EP is named after.
The title-track has a pulsating intro as ever, before exploding into a burst of energy that also feels warm and enveloping at the same time, moving between different sections with aplomb. The build-up is particularly tense, almost in a post-metal style, before it again explodes into a wall of atmosphere. Sean Mahon‘s vocal abilities are as powerful as ever, with fraught screams and impassioned clean vocals sitting perfectly upon their wave of sound.
Cuts from their 2015 debut ‘Silently, I Threw Them Skyward’ make up most of their Maida Vale session from the same year, and ‘Crystalline, So Serene’ kicks off the session. Every guitar stroke and drum hit is crystal clear, and even if the guitar parts are considerably different from each other it all somehow interlocks, with the free-form nature of this song shining through.
In a different setting, the slightly fragmented and brooding nature is still front-and-centre for ‘Space Burial’. Eventually, it again builds into the cathartic unravelling of tension that the band specialise in. It’s a sign of how much more powerful the band have become since this was recorded, but the signs of clear brilliance are here.
And to wrap things up, greeted with a cover of Radiohead‘s classic, ‘Just’. Despite the differences between this song and We Never Learned To Live‘s style on the surface, Mahon‘s hanging, yearning vocal melodies can arguably be traced back to Thom Yorke, and the sprawling, angular guitar work isn’t a million miles away from what Radiohead conjured up in the 90s, either. For the song’s final chorus, some extra weight is added with the help of impassioned screams, making for an interpretation that really turns into their own.
Due to its contents, this EP may largely be for the already-initiated, but it’s very much a journey into the vaults of one of the most underrated bands around at the moment.