Tether. – ‘Mirror Work’

By Ian Kenworthy

As the saying goes; it’s all about chemistry. A band is a collaborative project. It has moving parts like a machine and in order to function, each member has to interact with the other. That means they have ties, if you will, they have a Tether. Listening to the so-named band discuss their new music there’s a definite sense something isn’t quite right, that their ties are a curse, so their first release is more than just a debut EP, it’s therapy. You can’t help wonder if they called it ‘Mirror Work’, because they have a lot to reflect on.

Opener ‘Hollywood Trauma’ wastes no time telling you what they’re all about. Imagine Letlive raised in a gutter or Seeyouspacecowboy playing hardcore and you’ll have the general idea. It’s a sound heavily influenced by the mid-2000’s post-hardcore scene, meaning it has punk-rock energy, a hard edge, flirts with different underground genres. The vocals favour vomited yells and repetition in place of melodies or swooping hooks. However, it’s the song’s very first chorus that proves to be the most illuminating. Frontman Justin Jackson yells “Consider yourself the f**king problem” and it’s easy to take it as a direct reference to the band’s dysfunction; afterward the songs feel like all-out war.

Reading the EP’s press release is fascinating. They talk honestly about art as a collaboration, their differing goals and the difficulty in making a shared piece of art. Compared to other bands who drop a few buzzwords and say their music is vaguely about ‘mental health’, it’s a refreshing approach, especially as you can feel that frustration and bitterness powering the songs. Most obviously, this plays out in Jackon’s lyrics, like on the vicious ‘Straight With Me’ or the catchy repetition of the title on ‘Break Your Tether’ where he seems to be literally begging the band to call it a day, however it’s the unusual tensions between the other band members that creates each song’s fiery and exciting canvas. At its best it creates the tug-of-war riff that closes ‘Meet Me Where The Sun Touches The Sea’ or the off-kilter guitars on ‘Obey The Circle’ which shift awkwardly, like they’re trying to wrestle creative control from each other, you also get drummer James Gallagher determinedly dragging the songs off at a tangent with spacious patterns or rapid-fire punk beats, making for songs that crackle with discontent. On the downside it’s lacking a clear, coherent vision and, of course, it’s difficult to play to your strengths, when you can’t decide what they are.

‘Mirror Work’ is a solid debut but its energies can feel at odds with each other, leaving its songs a little undercooked. It’s not so much a work of compromise as the sound of a band burning through their passions as they desperately seek a divorce lawyer. Their awkward chemistry bodes well for the future, assuming they have one.

IAN KENWORTHY

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