Erase Theory – ‘ERASE THEORY’

By Ian Kenworthy

Life as a musician is hard. It’s precarious. Jeff Sahyoun spent ten years as the guitarist in Letlive. His whole life was built around the band. And then it ended. Suddenly, the band split citing ‘creative differences’, and while their vocalist quickly found success fronting another band, Sahyoun had nothing. No band, no job and no way to make money. Forced to work in construction – at least building something – he gradually started making music again, releasing two singles before another setback; a legal case forced him to change the project’s name. It’s like the universe didn’t want the ‘Erase Theory’ EP to see the light of day, but finally it’s here, and it was really worth fighting for.

As a one-person project, Erase Theory is all about processing grief, using music to tell Sahyoun’s story. There’s sadness, there’s grief and there’s disappointment, but hope propels the songs. Overall it’s guitar-based alt-pop but the sound is so deeply enmeshed with electronics that it’s difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins. Think Linkin Park’s ‘Living Things’ era, or even Northlane’s recent output. While many bands are exploring this territory it’s rare to hear them embrace it so fully, or to have it feel so unashamedly accessible. It’s not trying to be heavy – it’s happy to be accessible, but crushing.

This is a creative and playful set of songs and each blends slick guitar and throbbing electronics in different ways. The pulsing beats under ‘Lost It’ could be mistaken for a pop song while ‘Topshelf’ has metal in its veins, opening with a guitar riff that sounds massive in this context and is guaranteed to get your head bobbing. ‘Stay’, on the other hand, is built around a technical guitar part and features a thrilling, and unexpectedly noisy, guitar solo. Each song is underpinned by a chorus so other elements are free to drop in and out, making them flow in interesting ways, especially ‘20xx’ which glitches and stutters as it evolves over its runtime.

While there’s a “home studio” feel, Sahyoun has solid production skills which make for a crisp, professional and well-made listen, especially the massive intro to ‘Closure’ or the way ‘Lost It’ bounces along like a 90’s dancefloor classic. Occasionally the programmed ‘human style’ drums feel a little heavy-handed but they contrast nicely with the thumping house-style beats.

Sahyoun’s singing voice is impressive and while he doesn’t sing like Chester Bennington, he doesn’t not sing like him either. There’s a similar sense of melody, a love of big choruses and dark but personal touch to his lyrics, like on ‘Lost It’ where he sings “just a little confused, maybe I’ll never get to choose.” In fact, the songs all feature wonderful little hooks and vocal inflections that really underscore the point he’s making. Despite being about love ‘Closure’ uses double meanings and is surprisingly barbed, making it both clever and quite wicked.

Harnessing heartbreak and fuelled by disappointment, the ‘Erase Theory’ EP is a well-crafted, coherent and exciting debut.


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