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It’s taken six years and three EPs, but The Belligerents have finally cut a full-length debut. The result is an ambitious album which falls into roughly two parts. Side A collects the raw energy of layered yet groovable psych tracks while Side B strides closer to catchier dance rock. Immediately at the fore is the group’s compact songcraft. There’s little time for anguish or self-reflection, Science Fiction is more concerned with good time party vibrations and, in this respect, it charges ahead full tilt.
Opener ‘Sorry To Say’ pummels away atop a motorik groove as Lewis Stephenson’s hypotonic vocals float over the mix. It sets the tone with a shimmering fantasy of dense psychedelia. When these crashing riffs subside, ‘Caroline’ saunters forth as a bold take on classic Brit pop whimsy. With sweeping chord work, as well as a recorder solo, calling back to The Beatles’ ‘Fool On The Hill’, it rings out like a grander, warped and blissful take on a quintessentially English sound.
The expansive ‘Less And Less’ continues Science Fiction’s ascent into spacious Beatladelica while nudging towards hookier pop with a bashing rhythmic edge. Hard rockers ‘Before I Am’ and ‘Turn Down The Band’ follow suit while ‘Gemini’ bookends this mind-manifesting expansion. Loaded with echo and phased-out pads, its title motif and longing lyricisms feed into a climactic build. It could comfortably sit beside the psych-blasted sounds of Tame Impala circa InnerSpeaker.
The arpeggiated ‘Flash’ doesn’t jettison psychedelic elements whole hog but leaps into a more dance-oriented headspace. There’s not much time for heavy or heady lyrical explorations, instead, it’s an electro clash number à la The Rapture. It represents a bold transition and the group pulls it off in style with swaggering sci fi schmaltz and raga rock drones. The jittery ‘Science Fiction’ continues the thematic as a self-contained rock opera coursing with tension and release. ‘Yes Man’ returns to fuzzy synth rock geared for quick thrills. Penultimate track ‘It’s Gonna Get Worse’ caps it all off with an angsty anthem. Campy and loaded with fun its surf riffing middle section precedes the soft vocals of closer ‘Sleeping For Days’.
With Science Fiction The Belligerents seem to only get better the more pompous and over the top they go. Excitement and fun take place over serious-minded exertion, but this shouldn’t muddle the fact they’ve turned out a big, ambitious and polished record with stylistic veers left and right of centre. Science Fiction is a hefty arsenal of songs.
‘Science Fiction’ is out this Friday, 8th September. Pre-order a copy here.