"They are British, so you'll like them." Those were the words of my boss, who suggested that I check out the album English Self Storage by Bristol's The Playwrights. It isn't much of a secret that I do love good British rock, and The Playwrights are just that. Rather than just another angular-guitar fueled pop-rock group, resulting in a single of the week mention and then vanishing into obscurity, these guys offer bits of prog-rock to balance out their pop tendencies to make for a really full and unique sound. The mixed time signatures and strong melodies of "Why We've Become Invisible" somehow combines the jagged rock of Gang Of Four with, dare I say, early Genesis. Not crappy "I Can't Dance" Genisis, I'm talking about the Peter Gabriel days of "I Know What I Like." This fantastic opener leads into "Fear Of Open Spaces", that at first reminds me a tiny bit of Idlewild's Hope Is Important, especially with frontman Aaron Dewey's vocals that definitely more than just a little similar to those of Roddy Woomble. The marching beat of "Central Heating In The Summer Season" is offset by an interesting flugelhorn duet, giving the listener a chance to catch their breath before catapulting into a double-time jam that even leans a bit into the realm of post-punk. Not much, just a bit.
English Self Storage is filled with more twists and turns in its eight tracks than many bands dish out over an entire career. "Where The Stress Ends" pushes their prog influences to the rock sound of A Perfect Circle, once again mashing up mixed time signatures and unique drum patterns with unusual melodies that covers more ground than your run of the mill current British rock band. Out of nowhere, "Leave It For The Archaeologists" mellows us out with a rather beautiful instrumental with acoustic guitars, simple percussion and a string quartet. It isn't all experimentation and wandering melodies with The Playwrights, closing up the album with a sing-along smash hit in the making titled "21st Century Kaspar Hauser." Fans of Kaiser Chiefs and Maximo Park will find themselves humming this tune for days. This is a great mini-album that definitely rewards the listener after repeated listens. With English Self Storage now getting a domestic release, I've got a feeling we'll be seeing quite a bit more from this great English band.