Deer Chicago – EP

It’s always nice to see some fresh faces in the local music scene, and with Oxford getting more and more attention from the national music press, there’s never been a better time to be in an up and coming band, a fact that I’m sure locals, Deer Chicago, are aware of. They’ve been gigging relentlessly around the UK since their formation just over a year ago, and just recently played a four date Scottish tour with London based singer songwriter Matt Midgley.

Despite having only been together a short time, Deer Chicago are already attracting positive media attention, and their melodic style of progressive indie has been likened to bands such as Death Cab For Cutie, and Placebo. They released their three track debut EP at the end of last year.

Opener ‘Frozen Globe, Freezing Teeth’ starts off as typical lo-fi guitar driven indie pop, but after a lengthy intro, front man Jonathon Payne’s vocals pioneer the build up into a more rousing, frantic climax. Indeed, peaks and troughs seem to be a theme of this EP, with the contrast between soaring highs and minimalist lows being a focal point throughout.

‘In the Darkest Wood’, in comparison, is somewhat of an anti-climax. Almost too subtle, the track length – a hefty six minutes  (which, despite being slightly shorter than the other two tracks, is misplaced here) seems unnecessary, especially as the drawn out ending doesn’t really add much to the song as a whole. Third track, ‘Quite like a Tide’ is a return to form however, as emotive lyrics coupled with rising vocals and tumultuous melody provide one of the EP’s high notes.

Final track ‘Fighting Like Bears’ is a particular high point, and epitomises the best of what Deer Chicago have to offer. Here, more so than on any other track, they’ve gone all out. The sound is entirely organic and unrestrained; the emphasis on Payne’s compelling vocals well placed, and the rhythm section solid.

However, on repeated listening, you can’t help but feel that this isn’t all Deer Chicago have to offer. There are moments where the lengthy build ups could have led to pure unbridled rock-abandon and they seem to have reigned themselves in somewhat, leading one to conclude that on this particular EP, the evident potential overshadows their actual accomplishment. Nevertheless, a solid debut.