It’s been a while since such a young act has had the power to both impress with their skills as musicians while simultaneously depressing us by making us feel old. Formed in 2011 and originally starting out as a Thin Lizzy tribute act, budding Drogheda quintet Featuring X have exhibited their capability to move beyond the loop that most cover bands seem to suffer from. With their pleasant self-titled debut EP the girls have demonstrated a promising delivery as standalone songwriters.
Kicking off the three-track EP is the aptly named Jekyll & Hyde, which showcases the band’s steady beat and the smoky flow from lead vocalist Niamh before transforming into a frenzied fiddly-from-all-angles chorus. The other song which follows this bursting attitude trend is the EP’s closer, One Too Many Times. Instantly recognisable as being a very Arctic Monkeys–influenced song, it has an imaginable single-worthy jaunt about it. The guitar tone’s jaggedness is the real motivator for listening, and has that dark Monkeys groove that continues throughout the track while never becoming tedious.
In contrast to both these passionate outbursts, the EP’s second tune is a nice bridge between the opener and closer, and it’s where the band truly comes together. Employing the full range of its members, The Boat reveals a slower, calmer and more melancholic inflection to the EP. The harmonies between Niamh and backing vocalist/rhythm guitarist Elle on this song are superb and one of Featuring X’s biggest strengths. It’s a powerful device which deserved more of a presence in the other two songs.
While not perfect, ‘Featuring X’ doesn’t necessarily need to be. Considering the age of the band the production on this release is above average quality and a proud first attempt. For where these five girls are right now, as a fun and lively band, it’s safe to say Featuring X marks the spot.