Not named after Hollywood Oscar-botherer Ben, Affleck are arguably one of the most exciting bands to launch this year and their recently released self-titled debut EP is a triumph. It is littered with video game references and is well worth twenty-one minutes of your time.
Despite being named as one of the best new Irish bands of 2012 by Nialler9 readers, Eatenbybears called it a day early in 2013. Since then, all four members have gone onto different ventures and in new musical directions; Olan went on to form The Bedroom, an intriguing electronic act, while remaining members Aidan, James and Clarke founded electronic pop outfit Affleck. Their EP opener makes it clear that Affleck are more than pretenders with laptops in the already overcrowded electronic pop genre.
Covered in a deep searching synth, Anor Londo is hauntingly beautiful and a surprisingly confident and complex opener for such a new act. Named after the City of the Gods in the ‘Dark Souls’ game franchise, it’s ‘Kid A’-era Radiohead, but a decade on and a decade wiser. Its downbeat charm is only emphasised by the colourful following track Cat King Lightning. This is the EP’s most pop moment and is near perfect. It is instantly likeable and – with a synth riff that other bands would kill for – is surely a contender for song of the year. It also showcases the excellent vocal harmonies this trio retain from their former incarnation and proves that they can still effortlessly deliver them at will.
Lutece is a joy for gamers. Catchy and dream-like, it’s seemingly composed almost entirely from quotes from the ‘Bioshock’ series and is named after the bickering Lutece siblings. Finishing with a repeated Django Django-style chorus that echoes the game’s fatalistic worldview: ‘There’s always a lighthouse/always a man/always a city,’ it has to be the most nerd-satisfying way to discuss the counter argument to free-will in music history.
Elsewhere, Synths of Our Fathers, awful pun name aside, is the sound of a broken robot on anti-depressants, with a bass-synth riff that could be from any spooky ’90s Sega game involving the undead. The final track Lars All Alone however, a swirling slice of melancholy, sees Affleck cement themselves as ones to watch this year. It’s as clever as what has gone before and is a liltingly satisfying way to bring this EP to a close.
There are lots of people making electronic music right now, but few on this island are doing it so well. Highly recommended.
Stream the EP here