UNDER THE INFLUENCE- Late night circus show EP.

Here are three songs that finely display the sound that you would expect from four 16- year-old boys from Kings Lynn, who enclosed in their press pack a questionnaire and SAE for those to respond with feedback or offers of work, a move I have not seen before and something I am not sure doesn’t have the completely opposite effect to that desired, instead just instantly screaming ‘amateur’.

But perhaps I am being too critical. After all, what Under The Influence offer is accomplished for their tender age. Punchy vocals are delivered at breakneck speed on all tracks, singing first, perhaps in a naïve attempt at irony, about partying to the point of throwing up (on the EP’s title track) before using pretty much the same riff in highlighting the importance of role models in the imaginatively titled, er, ‘Role Models’. “Young kids look up to you and me” is their apparent anti-drugs message, begging the question: is there a place for responsibility in rock and roll? Me thinks not. The subject matter again just shines the spotlight on the quartet’s lack of experience in both songwriting and, dare I say it, life? In fact, they remind me of my husband’s first band when he was just fifteen. He was the singer in Detriora, a group that thought that the pinnacle of success was playing a hall in St Neots in much the same way as Under The Influence champion their forthcoming tour of Norfolk’s schools. Thank God he went on to better things.


However, it is these formative years that demonstrate a musician’s passion and potential for their craft and UTE undoubtedly exhibit both. It is therefore frustrating that only final song ‘Hopeless and damned’ hints at a different musical capability with its slower and so different style in places, particularly in its guitar work. Personally, this approach is something I would explore further. Whether they take this advice on board or not, I will probably never find out. I’d look a bit sinister sitting cross-legged on the assembly hall floor these days.



The Parks Dept. is apparently what happened when musician and producer, Luke Farmer, sat down armed with nothing but a laptop, drum machine and trusty Fender Bronco and put the results onto plastic, the results in question earning him comparisons to indie-electro’s finest, Daft Punk and LCD Soundsystem. Very good too.

And from opening track, ‘French Hands: Parts One and Two’, it is clear that Farmer favours a similar subversive approach to music as his influences, though the sound of a CD skipping for a few minutes amongst some beeps and bleeps forces me to question the amount of talent needed to create it and so making the CD skip myself onto the next track. Thankfully, what follows is much more representative of what is found here and whether it will be deemed a mistake to put something much less listener-friendly first remains to be seen, as the rest of the album is in stark contrast.

Flitting from bass-heavy Tiga-inspired alternative dance anthems, complete with obligatory sounds borrowed from 80’s computer games consoles and drumbeats from the school of Peaches, to something a bit more new wave/ punk (TPD’s most mature track is actually called ‘The New Wave’-a subtly dramatic, melancholy offering despite its cute synths, again proving the worth of further comparisons to Joy Division- though I would have said New Order myself). Occasional vocal effects nod to Air’s ‘Kelly loves the stars’ and this carefree kooky edge continues on ‘Saturday’ in a style reminiscent of Of Montreal, only let down by the poor lyrical content which ends up sounding a bit like ‘The Vichy Government’ and we all remember how much I loved them.

It is this range of influences, however, that makes ‘No/Noise’ more interesting than your average electro album, whilst the additional instrumentation in the form of guitars and, at times, live drums, showcase an obvious musical prowess. Indeed, I used to dance to stuff like this at various places to be seen on Tottenham Court Road back in the day. A fine memory I have is of a man in a sweatband splitting his skinny jeans whilst furiously breakdancing. The Parks Dept. makes for a nice revival and it is available for your perusal right away.


Anna C