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Review : The Assist – ‘Lost’ EP

After a wildly successful headline show at Café Totem With us on September 13th, The Assist’s new EP ‘Lost’ backs up their energetic and professional live show with a 4-track addition to their back-catalogue that makes you want to see the again.

“Four spicy chicken legends from Walsall”; that’s the first description of The Assist I ever heard, and I don’t know why, but somehow that image is exactly what I expected to hear when I played through Lost for the first time. You trampoline yourself through each track, bouncing into a world of danceable and thoroughly enjoyable pop-rock, and then you realise there’s a whole lot more to these guys than just that.

When you take a genre that is perhaps unfairly given a tagline of sameness, of unoriginality, and even occasionally of ‘selling-out’, these bands who seek to progress and reshape the genre are already on the back foot. Good job these guys can swing a roundhouse at you before grabbing you by the collar shouting “Sorry mate, what was that you said about pop-rock? Boring? Lacking in a direction? No new talent? Have you not heard our EP?”

To begin with, we have ‘Love’, where all good stories either start or end. Wailing guitars, wah-ing and sliding in and out of foreground, all supported by a rhythm section that I can’t really fault, cradling dynamic vocals that show-off a vocal talent that is not only a talent in and of itself, but a lead vocal that is actually emotive. There’s a depth, and an extra dimension to the vocals throughout this EP that take the step from a good vocal to a vocal that holds this sailing ship together.

Track 2 ‘All That I Need’ is just great. I want to go on and on about this track, because trust me I could, but there’s no fun in spoiling this one. You won’t be able to stop yourself from spinning it on loop, or learning the words, or grooving constantly for a touch over 4 minutes. It soars and glides around the room and then back into your ears. Fantastic.

Flanged guitars meet street-poetic vocal delivery in ‘Exist’, and then as verse becomes chorus, 3 vocal lines fight for position…and each one wins! It falls away, becomes delicate, vocal flow is on point, the snare roll builds and builds and builds, and then “WE JUST EXISTED TO NOT EXIST”. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Track 4 ‘Hung Up’ has a tough role in this release. How do you write and record the perfect closer to such a great EP? Apparently, you do it just like this. There’s a new percussion sound, samples, I’d maybe lean to a Dance influence that’s wriggled its way into this track. The Assist even treat you to some great harmonies that are expertly layered in the chorus.

Before being given the task (and to be honest, this has hardly been a task) of writing a review of The Assist’s new EP, I’d never heard of them or their music. After today, I’m going to find it hard to forget them.