Debut albums are equally very important and quite difficult to get right. They are a band’s introduction to the world, and have to translate a group’s sound to a brand new audience, showing the listener what makes them different from other musicians. Asylums make this look easy with Killer Brain Waves, their spectacular debut record, out now through their own Cool Thing Records.
Killer Brain Waves opens with the highly energised ‘Second Class Sex’ – fuelled by blasting guitar chords and a soaring chorus. The record is packed with these punky rockers, but the album never feels derivative, and each song has its own identity.
Take for example the second track ‘I’ve Seen Your Face In A Music Magazine’. Although still a high-tempo rock song the track puts far more emphasis on the lead guitar, with pulsing notes underpinning singer Luke Branch’s catchy chorus vocals.
The band fully embrace punk, speed and ferocity on ‘The Death Of Television’, which comes in at just under a minute and a half in length.
With that said, it’s not all speed on Killer Brain Waves, and some of the best tracks on the record are more mid-tempo. ‘Necessary Appliances’ is a particular highlight, which features incredible melodic, seemingly NWOBHM-inspired guitar work.
The guitars in general across Killer Brain Waves feature some of the best balance between lead and rhythm that I’ve heard in a long time, and every riff on the album is either catchy, ferocious or both. ‘Joy In A Small Wage’ is an excellent example of this: it is a song that is defined by its powerful indie-rock riff.
I would be doing Killer Brain Waves a disservice if I did not mention the band at large, all of whom perform to their peak. No song feels completely dominated by one instrument, and there is some really clever bass and drum work going on here. The lyrical content is also top-notch.
Killer Brain Waves is about as good as debut albums can get. It captures a unique and powerful sound, but never feels boring, making the record feel like an album rather than a playlist – something that is all too rare in today’s music.