EP Review... Affairs - Muscle EP

Whilst sifting through the many various promo emails we get sent through, I was lucky enough to discover Affairs, a slick 80s inspired outfit from Hull. With staccato layers of guitars and a voice similar to that of Ian Curtis of Joy Divison and Tom Smith of Editors, their flamboyant yet intense single 'Contact' struck a chord with me. Now with support slots for bands such as Alt-J, The 1975 and The Family Rain under their belt, 'Muscle' is the latest musical offering from the boys.

When hearing the EP on first play I felt as if I was walking on to the set of a 1980s teen movie, almost as if I've been transported to a high school disco where there's awkward but dreamy romance, trendy fashion and many smoke machines, a big sense of nostalgia echoed.
The opener entitled 'Blood Science' starts with dreamlike soundscapes which sets the mood for the fairly free space-like flowing track. The counterpoint harmonies follow through the song which is complete with a catchy hook in the rich chorus. Robinson's vocals are very laid-back which I feel is replicated throughout the EP. It works well as an opener to demonstrate what we can expect from the rest of the songs.
'Savour Us' is the most uptempo of the EP and one of my favourites. The beginning riff echoes similarities to 'Milk & Black Spiders' off Foals' latest LP. This, along with 'Heavy Flight' demonstrate the effectively tight work between the bass and drum parts. The production works brilliantly with the band's style. It builds up towards the end, dense in layers, before whirling in to a mass of bit crusher mess you'd expect more commonly from an old Mario game.
The third track 'Heavy Flight' didn't grab my attention on first impression but after a few more listens I've grown to really like this number. It again follows the droney guitar soundscape themes that have already popped up in the first two songs. 'Heavy Flight' showcases the tight jangly guitars, a characteristic of Affairs' music, and the interplay with all the different musical layers including Robinson's vocals. I feel as if 'Heavy Flight''s build up at the end has so much more potential to give but falls at the last hurdle, nevertheless, a brilliant riff.
Affairs demonstrate the beautiful combination of old and new on 'Stained Gold' and 'Ebony'. Some of the vintage instruments and sounds coexist brilliantly with the new-age sounding atmospheric soundscapes and the different samples. 'Stained Gold' is a romantic slow song with an icy guitar riff that works really well amongst the throbbing bass line and the well-written lyrics 'well your floating around like a boat on the river, you tremble and shiver' and 'your hands are as cold as the ice on your windscreen, fractured and unclean'. The use of electronic drums amongst the warm synth pads work a treat although the chorus doesn't quite transpose in the same way the others on the EP do. I feel like it lacks the catchy hook shown on the majority of Affairs' works.
There's great use of a 1980s sounding electric piano you'd find on an old Casio keyboard on 'Ebony'. The risk pays off massively as the guys manage to make it sound very tasteful and it fits perfectly amongst the rest of the track.

'Muscle' has demonstrated how Affairs' sound has matured but yet still played their cards close to their chest. The songwriting is a lot more thought out, not to doubt their earlier works, but shows a different side to the band, a more expressive side. It shows how diverse their sound can be and displays the sheer potential the band have. If you're thinking of buying this, do it. Now to see them live!

Out of 10: 8