The writing of the ‘XXXV’ EP represents a challenge to any aspiring music journalist. It’s post rock with very little in the way of words, no discernible band bio to go by and nondescript titles to both the EP and the songs. Way to go Punch Face Champions, you know how to make things tough to gain an angle.
Thankfully, their music is of such standing that none of the above really matters. Within the confines of the post rock genre, it can be demanding of such limitations to find a sound which is truly unique. There is intricate (Enemies), epic sweeping vistas (God Is An Astronaut), smash yer face in riffs (ASIWYFA) to atmospheric (Overhead, The Albatross). Punch Face Champions bring to the table sharp dynamics with a touch of heft somewhere between Enemies and ASIWYFA.
The EP consists of 5 songs, none of which out stay their welcome, yet containing enough variation within them and from one another to make their own individual mark. X begins with a chugging bass line before tumultuous drums and twin guitars crash in. Punch Face Champions are smart enough to add in a weeping guitar lead mid song which provides the song with its emotional core. All the best post rock songs should be capable of hitting home an emotional punch without the needs for words and Punch Face Champions hit the mark on X.
Elsewhere the marching stomp of IX gives way to a more elaborate song structure of V. Much more impressive is the high to low dynamic shifts of VIII which undulate rapidly with its duelling guitars. It’s immediately arresting and grabs the listener by the goolies. A little of VIII ‘s chutzpah could have been spread out to III which stays too cosily within the standard post rock template of building to an epic chorus, but it’s all been done before by other bands and with added oomph.
There is enough originality on display to suggest that Punch Face Champions have got a lot more in their locker and it will be interesting to see how they progress from this auspicious start.