EP review: Salem – Salem II
When you ask Will Gould the difference between his main band Creeper, and his Friday night plaything Salem, he’s to the point. The two may share a lot of the same dark wardrobe and darker romance but, he says, one is more calculated, high-concept, important. The other is something grubbier, grittier, a thrill more back alley and illicit. Creeper is a theatrical expression in which every moving part is considered in relation to its neighbours for maximum dazzle; Salem are the mess and smeared-lipstick excitement of a more unplanned, urgent kind.
II is, like October’s self-titled debut EP, a goth-punk rush that has its black heart firmly in the same place as AFI, early My Chemical Romance and Grave Pleasures, but that tickles the roots of where this all comes from as well. Most obviously, opener William, It Was Really Something is an all-too-perfect reference to The Smiths, while the video for the DRACULADS – just marvel at that title – pays homage to The Cure, Joy Division, The Hacienda and the gutter glamour that these things managed to make sparkle through the gloom of Thatcher’s Britain. There’s a darkness and horror shtick at play, but it’s of a pleasing, sinful stripe, made of wit and raised eyebrows and fun and sin and basically wanting to be The Ramones in leather trousers and black eyeliner. In this, Salem excel.
And perhaps it’s best that Salem deliver themselves in short, sharp, breathless bursts of EPs. These songs are meant to be a quick, no-strings hit. It’s this uncomplicated lack of fuss that gives Heaven Help Me and Sweet Tooth their kick. If it all stuck around much longer it might turn back into a pumpkin. And, really, Salem don’t actually need a lot of time to work their black magic.
For fans of: AFI, My Chemical Romance, The Adverts
Salem II is out now via Roadrunner
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