Imagine, for a moment, a Blade Runner-esque future. You’re driving through a tunnel, late at night, in a silver car with swooshing doors that open upwards as if releasing an airlock. Steady beams illuminate the road in front, dull orange sidelights pulsing by. These are the kind of visuals conjured by Tigwara and their eponymous debut EP – four tracks of self-assured, steel-cut alt electro. It’s a clear development from 2014 single New Day Rises; the clicks and whirrs of drum machine discarded in favour of something grungier, sexier and vaguely dystopian.
Tigwara’s strength lies in the instrumentals and creation of layered soundscapes – the tracks here could in no way be classed as ‘songs’, but as self-contained balls of sound in which the interplay of the four musicians is interesting to dissect. Opening track City Sleeps is a case in point, underpinned by the Morse code dashes of a driving bassline interweaved with fractured guitar hooks and atonal vocals. These are high in the mix, and treated almost as another instrument, elongated cries of ‘tonight’ and ‘alight’ bleeding into a squall of guitar and turbulent drums before the whole thing drops back to a skeleton beat.
That Soul takes a similar approach and invokes an inevitable shuffling dance – it’d be great live. The first two minutes of syncopated instrumentals slot together like a particularly satisfying jigsaw before giving way to looping vocals, which wink at the Alex Turner school of swaggering lust. “Play that soul like it’s the gospel truth/ It soothes the ache and pain that comes from loving you” speaks of dark obsession, heightened by the call to “Build a little effigy/ So I can burn it down and set the mind at ease”. Chanted over the top like an incantation, they help create the stand out track of the EP.
A shame, then, that elsewhere the band’s lyrics lag behind the innovation of their overall sound. Sure, there’s no expectation of Shakespeare, but once discerned, the hackneyed rhyming couplets of Gimme Your Time (“It’s getting dark, oh yeah, walking through the park”) stand in the way of repeated listens. Pay For Your Love is equally heavy-handed – on the off chance that the subject matter wasn’t already apparent from title alone, lines such as “Here you lie/ With a stranger tonight” and “He came here to pay for your love” gratingly spell it out. If Tigwara could move away from the hips/lips/vibe descriptions of women towards something more sophisticated, it would prevent their tracks from wearing thin.
Neat and well produced, ‘Tigwara EP’ is an effective statement of intent from the Limerick four-piece. Added lyrical subtlety would enhance the effect of their blended soundscapes – but lyrics are easily created, attitude less so – and this, the band have in abundance.