Review: El Moth – Life’s A Ride EP

El Moth Life's A Ride

Not content with a one-genre description to their name, Melbourne reggae-roots-rock collective El Moth showcase a healthy talent for riddim on their new EP Life’s A Ride. It’s a six-track offering from the six-piece. The EP sees El Moth’s influences distilled into an original, effective sound and they wring every ounce of life from it. Ignore the cover art, we promise it’s a polished EP.

El Moth hit us with first single ‘Cold Faces’. The clavinet hook sets the song off and breaks into an upbeat riddim as vocalist Tim Smith ruminates on his distain for the nature of modern society. This band definitely have a new wave vibe to them, from their sound to their style. The horns are especially tasty on this track, interjecting throughout but never overstaying their welcome.

‘Must I’ slows things down a bit, keeping the beat locked as the band do the simple things well. A nice, chilled track with a surprise in the middle, it’s a case study of not overcomplicating the production. The guitar interplay is nice, and the keys shine bright. Thumbs up, guys.

A highlight comes in the form of ‘Routine Life’, with rock posturing and one of the most solid riddims on the EP. The sharp, syncopated horns are great, the lead guitars proving the rock descriptor apt. A cool, reflective middle eight breakdown adds dimension to the track and gives way to an effective solo ending. This track best represent Life’s A Ride, as it contains all the elements the band display in other songs combined. Ghost Town-esque.

‘Triangles’ has the band exploring downtempo lounge music to great effect. Hazy horns and sparkling keys play over a rolling riddim and guitar riff. They coalesce and intertwine like lovers. The track ebbs and flows, building up, breaking down and breaking out, as Smith sings an ode to a tortured woman. Experimenting with form and exercising style, the band reveal more dimension with every note. Critical in a genre as rigid and analogous as reggae.

Another track brimming with unique style is ‘Fisherman’. Led by a new wave keys hook, the song has Smith at his most Sting-like. It’s a shame but Sting has ruined it for any white guy vocalist putting his chords to reggae. The track is cool though, and expertly executed. Drums and percussion are strong, and let’s not forget that wonderfully loose breakout ending.

A standout of the EP is upbeat party anthem ‘Everyday Is A Weekend’. Harbouring a Cat Empire template, the band keep it lively and fun, performing all the tricks they’ve learnt on the Melbourne underground party scene. Based around a euro-centric horn hook, the song is always adventuring into unfamiliar territory with authenticity.

It gets as multi-cultural as Australia and has gypsy notes all through it. There’s also some exotic instrumentation in there, like Mediterranean or Eastern percussion and what sounds like a Bouzouki. Ultimately though, the song has only one ambition and it’s fair to say it achieves it. A strong ending.

Life’s A Ride is upbeat and downtempo. It’s not a traditional party record. It’s more of a record for a party of one, where you don’t care about who’s having a good time because you are – and that’s all that matters. The band are also exceedingly good at what they do and inject some life and dimension into what can be a tired and straightforward genre.

A rock solid EP with a sense of style and purpose.

Ben Cook

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