Creeper – ‘The Stranger’

By Rob Barbour

The third EP from Southampton “coroners” (it seems we’re not the only ones running out of spooky adjectives to describe them), Creeper, ‘The Stranger’ is being billed as a ‘sequel’ to 2015’s ‘The Callous Heart’ EP. Rather than effectively forming the second half of a 10-track album, though, the EP showcases the kind of sonic leap forward which takes most bands an entire album cycle.

First single (and third track) ‘Black Mass’ might have hinted at a more assured take on the former EP’s 1950s-tinged punk rock, with its grinding skate-punk bass and a middle-8 lifted straight from Back To The Future’s ‘Enchantment Under The Sea’ dance, but it was a bait-and-switch: what we actually get is something far darker and more assured.

Opener ‘The Secret Society’ is the sound of a band eyeing up huge venues, saying “Nice arena. We’ll take it,” and writing a song the same size. ‘Valentine’, meanwhile, demonstrates a distinct maturing in Creeper’s songwriting sensibility – its urgent riffs giving way to an arms-in-the-air singalong chorus. In context, the aforementioned ‘Black Mass’ is something of an outlier. A palette cleanser of bouncy pop-punk in between courses of the life-affirming misery which “never goes out of style”, as Will Gould reminds us on the track of the same name.

Closer ‘Astral Projection’, with its wall of hyperactive guitars and gang vocals, invokes the band’s eponymous 2014 EP while reminding us just how far Creeper have come since then – its fake-out ending followed by the kind of epic denouement that belies the fact it, like all of these songs, was written with one eye on the ever-growing crowds expected to sing them back. A stunning continuation of form, and a hell of a start to what’s bound to be a huge year for the sunlight-dodging Southerners.


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