EP review: Scowl – Psychic Dance Routine

Californian hardcore firebrands Scowl create the blueprint for their future on scorching EP…

EP review: Scowl – Psychic Dance Routine
Emma Wilkes

Hidden beneath the insistent pound of drums and scratching riffs on Psychic Dance Routine is the sound of the cogs in Scowl’s brains turning. They’ve got more to do than just accept the mantle of being hardcore’s shiniest future hopes – they’re thinking out loud about what else they can be beyond that, across the smaller, less pressured scope of an EP before the Difficult Second Album comes looming. It’s a testament to their ambition, sure, but on top of that, they’ve made themselves all the more intriguing in the process.

The Californians’ schtick has become a two-pronged attack – a similar kind of blistering hardcore that made 2021 debut How Flowers Grow so compelling, but interestingly, it is counterbalanced by a more melodic alt.rock sensibility. It’s pulled off with ease on the title-track, with vocalist Kat Moss’ clean vocals offering a sweeter contrast to the grungy guitars that brandish more than a hint of hardcore’s characteristic bite. Similarly, Opening Night runs with the baton into even grittier territory and a skittish chorus, reaching the point where the guitars practically rev.

Interestingly, it’s these newer turns in their sound that prove most successful on the EP as well as the most enticing. Partly because they choose one objective and stick to it. The rapid-fire, snarling hardcore verses of Shot Down, for example, are as mosh-worthy as ever, and its chorus sugary, but those pieces are too jagged to fit without jarring. Wired, meanwhile, fares better, still mustering a feeling of savagery with a mid-paced tempo (mostly) even if the faster passage in the beginning is maybe superfluous. It’s with wry, scattergun closer Sold Out however that they shift gears within a song most smoothly, so perhaps going forward, their rougher edges might only need a little sanding down before they get where they hope to be.

Psychic Dance Routine sees Scowl find thrilling ways to stand apart from their peers – these songs may well be the sketches for true greatness.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Turnstile, GEL, Amyl And The Sniffers

Psychic Dance Routine is released on April 7 via Flatspot

Check out more:

Now read these

The best of Kerrang! delivered straight to your inbox three times a week. What are you waiting for?