It Looks Sad - It Looks Sad [EP] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

It Looks Sad

It Looks Sad [EP] (2014)

Tiny Engines

"Ocean" is a great summary of what this band is about. It's without a doubt my favorite track of 2014 and with good reason. Not only does it signify how much progress has been made and the direction that It Looks Sad is heading in but it adds degrees of musical solidity to a band that channeled a lot of effort into finding their definitive sound and overall, their voice. They sifted and sifted and this self—titled EP seems like it's the perfect fit.

"Ocean" was the first song I heard off this and it stirred something in me. Oddly enough, it caps off the record but I took it in a few times before letting the album play out. It has a grasping vibe a la WU LYF and more so Foals, with a mumbling and very lax lyrical tone, yet it's a cathartic and melodic dig at you. The words seem swallowed by the rhythmic bass line but it's this slow tempo, gradually building yet never settling, that sinks in under that cloud of slow percussion, well—timed cymbal placement and guitar work to induce a trance—like effect. It births a shoegaze feel that resonates deeply and for want of a better word, pans out as mesmerizing. The garage ambiance shifts tone after the two—minute mark into a jarring, post—hardcore finale of "I am your ocean" repeatedly which, as pained as it sounds, sums up what the other tracks laid foundation for prior ——themes of love and relationships.

Interestingly enough, after multiple listens of "Ocean," the post—hardcore meets math—y backbone of It Looks Sad really swings to life and leaves you wondering why the transition to such a dreary yet awesome finale. The previous three songs aren't that haunting and as "Racoon" shows, the band loves to carve their name in shimmering elements of post—punk and sharp, intricate guitars that reek of indie. They blend massive bass lines to fit a multitude of sweet melodies, echoing a lot of their influences a la Surfer Blood and Beach Fossils. It Looks Sad really craft a leaner and more straightforward sound that nods toward British indie music more than anything else but is still packed with room to breathe amid a great narrative with its own visceral edge. Then again, that kind of power isn't a shocker given how meticulous and astute Tiny Engines bands usually are. This song addresses love and longing for the next step in a twinkly fashion and the band's strengths all complement each other remarkably well here —— crisp kit work, tight chords and a snappy pizzazz.

"Radical" also gives a nice gauge as to how they've developed with its lo—fi, twangy vibe most recognizable by fans of old before they shortened their name and further hypes that their new material isn't to be ignored. It's a diverse set that'll last under 15 minutes, but it's more than enough to get stuck in your mind for quite some time. I've had this on repeat for a while now and it'll be making EP lists at year's end because it has that much drive to it. It's a bold statement and one worth the time.