The Dead Lovers EP by Home Salvation is music that doesn’t just sneak up on you, it comes up from behind and bludgeons you over the head with the musical equivalent of a frying pan. Like all good punk, it is abrasive, fast, and uncompromising. If you have a headache, then too fucking bad; shut up and listen. This doesn’t necessarily equate to consistently great music, per se, but these Cambridge natives have enough fist-pumping energy to get you to knock over a lamp as you mosh in your living room. Despite the full-scale assault on your ear buds, there are subtleties that make these guys more than your average noisemakers.
By default, they are indeed a punk band, although just listen to the last half of the final track “Stones” and tell me that ain’t rock and roll swagger you hear! I haven’t heard a band slap together hard-core punk and sleazy rock that well since I first laid ears on the 2002 masterpiece, Mclusky Do Dallas. Guitarists William Howe and Dan Effendi seem to pull shit like that all over the place. I would say this is Home Salvation’s neatest trick. The guitarists are playing like they are The Rolling Stones, while the rest of the band plays like they’re Black Flag. The glue that holds it all together is the unhinged larynx shredding of vocalist Ben Perrett. The dude sounds like a severely pissed off Rottweiler who is off his leash and ready to rip the mailman to absolute shreds.
Not everything on here works, but “Dead Lovers,’’ the fucking monster of an opening track, should be singled out as the unquestionable classic of the EP. If that opening riff doesn’t get you riled up and ready to go, then there is something seriously wrong with you; see a doctor immediately. Plus any band that sneakily lifts the lead riff from T. Rex’s “20th Century Boy” for their outro is deserving of our immediate head-banging. In just three minutes, this song has it all. Like any exceptional lover, it gets in, does its business, and leaves you immediately satisfied. If only the other tracks were as concise and straight to the point.
I also quite like the song “Stones.” It works as a fitting tribute to that 60s act that refuses to die, and the last half of the song is the definition of a mosh-pit, stadium-anthem hybrid. The gut-busting, blues-drenched solo is also impossible not to play air guitar to. My main problem with the EP lies with “Ex-Harmonies.’’ I don’t know how else to say it: it drags everything else down. It is still brimming with adrenaline, but at five minutes long it seems to be in-your-face just for the sake of it. When you only have three songs on an EP, one misstep can become horribly noticeable. This EP is already short enough!
I can’t shake the feeling that this whole thing was tossed off in a hurry, so that the band would have something to sell after gigs. They are a must-see live band, so this makes perfect sense. It’s too bad in a way, because I think with a full album release these guys could really do some damage. All they need to do is write more concisely, and develop their chops as recording artists. For the love of God, I hope they don’t lose that energy! Believe me, more music listeners out there could use a good whack over the head like this one.
Written by Shawn Thicke
*edited by Kate Erickson