Formed so that two members could swap bass for guitar – and one vice versa – Melbourne quartet Deep Heat stoke an immediate urgency that could spring from that fact alone. Then again, it could simply be the personnel. Guitarist Alicia Saye and bassist Jacquie Hynes were formerly in the Diamond Sea, who broke up two years back, and now play together in Infinite Void; Guitarist Gus Lord comes via Boomgates and the hibernating Teen Archer; while drummer Katie Harrigan once anchored Gray Like Mondays.
Deep Heat crash through this debut EP with three shouting vocalists and a sound not unlike the atmospheric old-school punk of Denmark’s Iceage. The call-and-response voices lend a heartening solidarity that parallels the melodic side of chant-along hardcore. These hectic two-minute songs encourage chasing oblivion in the pit as much as finding a sense of community there.
Recorded oddly enough by Plutonic Lab of Melbourne hip-hop duo Muph & Plutonic, Low Lights tends towards studies of entropy. The first two songs seem to document problems with one’s senses, as if the world was collapsing on all sides, and ‘White Light’ mirrors its demand, “Erase the inside of my head”, with the music’s troubled delirium. Yet there’s a serious catchiness at work, from the burly rhythm section to the intertwined guitars. The Sonic Youth-ish title track is both noisy and driving, ‘Tangent Circles’ conjures a punk-mussed Love of Diagrams and ‘Negative Thought’ would fit nicely on one of those Kill Rock Stars compilations from the early ’90s.
All these tunes are great, but ‘Clean Break’ deserves to be the breakout single. With teeth-rattling pop brashness, it nears jangle but also keeps up the Sleater-Kinney-style conversation between the guitars that pops up all over the EP. It’s dodgy and busy at once, achieving a kind of ramshackle ambitiousness. Nearly as poppy is the closing ‘Sideways’, whose woozy guitar effect radiates an unexpected New Wave vibe. Well, at least until the vocals come in.
by Doug Wallen