Brutalism EP by Profumo Review
Brutalism is the debut EP from Profumo, a four-piece band from Tyneside, signed to Sunderland label Forgotten City Records. The breezy yet barbed indie guitar pop featured here is makes for a hugely encouraging introduction.
On opener, Bright Young Things, chiming guitars belie biting lyrics. “I’ve been keeping my enemies close, I’ve been sleeping with them”, we are told. Brutal indeed! These words let us know straight away that beneath the shimmering guitars, these lads from North East England pack a canny clout!
This bright start is quickly followed by Breton Stripes. A sweet guitar intro is augmented by a swirling synthesizer reminiscent of an early Nick Cave ballad. Off-kilter lyrics and a musical hook combine to make a winning track.
On the piano-led track Samantha, Profumo remind us why this is called Brutalism EP. The band’s knack for dark, cynical (in a good way) lyrics warn the subject that her lover has some rather unpleasant plans for her. While The D-Team is another jangly guitar track punctuated by some xylophone work that gives the music real texture.
The guitars on Scotswood Diamonds are driven along by a galloping yet shuffling drum beat that keeps the momentum going on Brutalism. The track threatens to break out into an out-and-out rocker. Indeed it ends in an angry-sounding barrage of guitars before leaving us with a sustained single keyboard note.
Profumo end their Brutalism EP with On the Waterbed, possibly our favourite song on the EP. It’s a subtle acoustic ballad that that once again offers an absorbing contrast between soft music while the words hint at something more sinister. The song slowly builds to a tumultuous ending with searing guitars to provide a satisfying ending to a fine EP.
It would be lazy to compare a new band to old bands so please forgive this reviewer for doing just that. The jangly guitars will inevitably bring comparisons to the Smiths. No bad thing. They can also be compated to the Go Betweens in their Before Hollywood era. No bad thing either. However, this would simplify Profumo’s Brutalism EP too much. There are several musical genres in evidence here and the band manage to successfully meld them into a coherent sound. It should also be remarked that the EP benefits from a good clear production.
Let’s be clear that this debut EP shows real promise. Profumo set intelligent, narrative lyrics to interesting musical arrangements. Yes, there are a few rough edges but that kind of adds to the charm. All of the songs showcased here are fully-formed 3-dimensional that warrant repeated listening. The execution of ideas is superb throughout, here are no half-formed ideas here.
It will be interesting to discover out how touring and time will develop the band’s sound on their next outing. On the evidence of the Brutalism EP we can look forward to future Profumo releases with real anticipation.
Rated Sound gives Brutalism EP by Profumo a score of 8/10.
Brutalism EP (2015) by Profumo Track Listing
1 Bright Young Things
2 Breton Stripes
4 The D-Team
5 Scotswood Diamonds
6 On The Waterbed