Names can be deceiving, and with song titles ranging from the epic (Constantinople) to the mundane (Cornflakes), you’ll be forgiven if you hit play on Between Screams‘ self-titled taster EP expecting literate emo of yesteryear. But with the Dublin quartet’s ear for soft-loud dynamics, frontman Sean Dolan’s impassioned howl and the aggressive backing vocals by way of bassist Stephen Reilly, those presumptions are at least partially correct. But what you see isn’t all you get. ‘Between Screams’ also serves up a well crafted display of post-rock musicianship, without conforming to the genre’s usual tropes.
Constantinople is an aptly monolithic title for an equally monolithic opening track, and first of two instrumental tracks on the EP. It and sister track Greed best showcase the band’s ability to suggest moods through tempo shifts and ambience. While not the most technical or flashy, the group demonstrate the sort of interplay and comfort with each other as musicians that many on a grander scale would give an arm for. Not a note is out of place, nor repeated too often for the sake of catchiness. The sort of delay-pedal obsessed guitar noodling that post-rock is either loved or hated for is eschewed in favour of contrapuntal guitar patterns; tremolo picking; interlocking riffs driven by a water-tight rhythm section; bright, clean guitar tones all the spaces in between filled with tasteful reverb, strings, odd noises and gorgeous vocal harmonies.
As musically impressive as Between Screams are on this EP, they are equally emotionally gripping. Their ability to start or stop playing at crucial moments is complimented by a penchant for a good hook and anthemic chorus that Dolan uses to pour his heart out. On Cornflakes, Dolan urges he’ll “find a way / to string this together / and help us feel better / and seal it all again”. On Horse Hunter he croons “catch our breath before we fall back down / pick me up before I hit the ground” over a breathless, endless sigh of “please don’t stop”s and twinkling notes plucked from the stars, before the song is thrown back into the storm from which it had just emerged.
‘Between Screams’ is a first small step from a band with a wealth of potential and enough tricks up their sleeve to please listeners all across the alternative rock spectrum. This is an EP that both deserves and promises to hold your attention, ultimately rewarding it with each listen.