Music For Nations head honcho Joel De’ath recently started an Instagram account by the name @my_dads-lps, systematically reviewing every piece of vinyl in his father’s collection, and it’s this that springs to mind when listening to Asylums’ second album, Alien Human Emotions, because somebody here has clearly been rooting in their old man’s bins. Adding youthful vim and millennial vigour to a frothy pot of influences only mid-to-late 30-somethings could reasonably be expected to remember, the Essex four-piece sound remarkably old for a relatively young band, blending the melodies of mid 1990s alt-rock and the mood of Britpop/Britrock with surprising accuracy. Maybe we’re being unfair, maybe the band are older than they look, maybe (definitely) it’s irrelevant, but if music had a smell, this would be alcopops, NME, plaid shirts, poppers and Lynx Africa.
Dreamy album opener Day Trip To The Moon sets the scene with shades of both The Dandy Warhols and Placebo in its androgynous simplicity, before lead single When We Wake Up re-imagines Feeder’s Just A Day, as played by Learning To Fly-era Foo Fighters, and from here on in, the member-berries just keep coming. The title track deftly blurs the line between Elastica and Everclear; The Flaming Lips and Sonic Youth streak through Millennials; Napalm Bubblegum sounds like a pissed-off and pissed-up Carter USM; and Critical Mass couldn’t sound more like a Sleeper vs Maximo Park bunfight if it tried. However, what sets Asylums apart from simple nostalgia, is an undeniable knack for melody and a gleeful alt/indie charm that sparks where others flicker, meaning that above all, Alien Human Emotions is laughably, gloriously, unashamedly fun. Not everything is a bullseye (Homeowners Guilt is a little too foppish for its own good), but when the songs connect, they go off like Mardi Gras. Poppy, rocky, quirky and sassy, it’s easy to imagine Asylums being Kurt Cobain’s favourite band in another life.
Alien Human Emotions is available via Cool Thing Records on 6 July