With influences ranging from Captain Beefheart to Brazilian Tropicalia bands like Os Mutantes, Brixton based EFFORT were always going to sound interesting. Throw in a bit of 50s Doo-wop and some casual high brow references to poet William Carlos Williams and it becomes downright bizarre. They are part of a wider reaching collective of artists, writers, film makers and musicians committed to producing original, independent art with little financial backing, and their debut EP certainly fits the bill.
Their name is a rather appropriate one, as singer Sim Eldem explains: “Our name EFFORT relates to the band’s DIY ethic of making quality, original music through hard work, musicianship and songwriting to our own standards rather than the current market for instant commercially successful songs”. This certainly comes across on their debut self funded EP: Five tracks of exuberant schizo-pop, pogo sticking frantically between modern rock/punk influences and more nostalgic 50’s and 60’s vocal harmonies. “Little Girl” juxtaposes raucous Battles-esque rhythms with gentle lead vocals, disguising a melodic and emotive core within layers of frantic punk noise. “Fix/Adjust” uses this same formula, coupling a guitar hook straight out of the Twilight Zone with pounding, erupting drum fills and soulfully delivered lines about betrayal.
“Often our songs look at the darker traits of human nature, but from an amusing or surreal perspective. We put a strong emphasis on narrative, mood and structure in the way we write and deliver our music.” The structuring of the songs may be considered experimental and some of the reference points a little obscure but the music is delivered with a fun loving attitude that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The ironically titled “Thinking is Cheating” for example almost parodies Barbershop vocal groups with the line “She doesn’t really bitch anymore” while the animalistic howling in “Sounds of her City” make it clear that this is a band enjoying themselves.
Despite this there certainly is the sense that they believe fully in
what they are doing and work very hard, not only as a band, but also
as part of a wider independent arts collective. They recently worked
on a score for a play that was performed at The Edinburgh Fringe, and
curated an event at the Windmill in Brixton, the proceeds of which funded
their EP. In their own words the collective work together “to produce
cutting-edge art with minimal, or no funding… a group of musicians,
painters, sculptors, performance artists and theatre practitioners who
want to work together and offer each other feedback and support.”
Such an ethic is refreshing and admirable but what really matters is
the music, and fortunately the EFFORT EP is an intriguing, confusing
yet hugely enjoyable listen.