Having been active for less than 6 months, for The Allergens to release their debut EP Ostrich in early February is remarkably industrious. However, having seen the band live three times since the turn of the year, their clear cohesion despite their fledgling status makes me think several of their ideas must have been banging around for some time. Whether this be the fruition of many long-term musical projects, or a DIY effort done on the fly, the fact it is indistinguishable displays it as a solid debut effort.
One of the criticisms I have of The Allergens on stage is that their switching between three singers over short 6 song sets often makes their overall aesthetic seem far more messy than it actually is, a shame seen as their tracks are invariably extremely tight. Yet on Ostrich this movement works far better, and whilst as the band develops, it would be useful for their sound to streamline somewhat, it makes for an entertaining EP to hear several different timbres in such a short space of time. This malleability means The Allergens can cycle through a multiplicity of sounds over the four tracks – showing equal adeptness in the more scuzzy Castaway compared to the introspective Going Nowhere, which sounds like a cross between Metric and The Pretenders. Oftentimes the vocalists crossover with some degree of success, although I will say the overlapping and polyphonic vocals of Going Nowhere would benefit from an extra complexity which would perhaps similarly lift the boy-girl interchanges of Castaway.
The highlight of the EP is undoubtedly Fascist Love Song, a track which really sets itself apart with its minimalism and unique lyrics. Indeed the pointedness of the lyrics can’t help remind me both of The Smiths and Neutral Milk Hotel. Whilst I appreciate such a comparative juxtaposition is completely jarring, I highly recommend checking out this track if only, to get some sense of what I’m talking about.
Overall this is a strong effort from a band who have a good deal of potential. Judging by their prolific performing across Exeter over the last few months you should expect some more from The Allergens soon, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they develop in the coming years.