‘HOT 4 U’ is the debut EP from Limerick indie rock quartet Cruiser. Cruiser was formed in the summer of 2014 by guitarist/vocalist Ger Devine and guitarist Chris Quigley, with drummer Steve Savage joining in 2015. Bassist Rachael Drennan completes the line-up, replacing founding member Laura Walsh. To date the group have also recorded four singles, and two Christmas covers; all available on their Bandcamp profile.
‘HOT 4 U’ is a four-track EP of off-kilter, noisy pop-punk which calls to mind the sounds of Dinosaur Jr., Jawbreaker and Sunny Day Real Estate. Fuzzed out guitars are underpinned by a tight rhythm section, over which some intelligent and thought provoking lyricism is delivered by Devine’s very fitting mid-range, sometimes throaty, sometimes nasal vocal.
The EP kicks off with 4-1, a steady alt-rock tune which makes use of some interesting chord voicings and a driving beat, along with an angular, dissonant guitar break and a shout along chorus. A rambunctious starting point, 4-1 gives way to Next Election; an ode to the disillusioned Irish voter (“Thinking ‘bout what you said before and what you said at the door confused me/oh well… The funeral service starts at 8/The rural vote loves a good chat”). Though not a bad song in itself, its place on the EP does somewhat take away from the momentum built by its opening track; dirge like in tempo before kicking into overdrive on the penultimate verse.
Any steam lost on the EP’s second track is immediately regained on its title track, which opens with angsty minor chords and a nice, single string guitar lead and a more urgent vocal from Devine; almost pleading with his lyrical subject for some kind of resolve (“All the words you keep on saying are gonna pull me through/But you’re cooling off by half past two”).
‘HOT 4 U’ is then rounded off by the free-wheeling Leaning Out on which a dialogue about a strained relationship takes place, offering both sides of the story on each of the track’s verse. The ‘female’ verse is sung over some clean channelled chords and prayer-bell harmonics, displaying Cruiser’s understanding of the soft-loud dynamic which has become a staple of the alt-rock format, before launching into a soaring refrain to finish.
‘HOT 4 U’ shows a band which, though yet underdeveloped, have paved a sound that works for them and some early signs of strong songwriting chops. The ‘rough around the edges’ production fits the muffled tones favoured by both guitarists and the overall boisterous energy of the group. Let down only by the track sequencing – whether or not Next Election need have been included is debatable – Cruiser have produced a solid EP and a foundation for future material.