❉ Proudly wearing its influences on its sleeve, this an E.P. that screams 1968.
It’s all too easy to compare a band to the Beatles and many musos consider it clichéd writing to compare a pop rock band to the fabs. It’s an adjective that comes across as a double edged sword; bring intricate lyrics and clever pop cum prog arrangements and you get XTC, Radiohead and The Cure, stick to twelve bar havens and you get Liam Gallagher. So, it’s often better not to bring the Liverpudlians into reviews. I’ll let myself off with Mats Wawa; their closing track is called George Harrison Beatle so they’ve invited the comparisons. But there is something delightfully Beatlesque here on this E.P., stomping Ringo grooves play throughout, cute Paul McCartney vocals sing out and Harrison waw waw reverberating hooks/licks are played as if they’re praying to their sweet lord. If you ask me, I’d take this E.P. over the Free As A Bird/Real Love combo- and that featured three of the Beatles!
This an E.P. that screams 1968, searing harmony soul guitar fizzing dizzily, allowing Mats Wawa to find their instrumental voice as Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page did with The Yardbirds. Easy On The Eye is lovingly laconic, ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ ringing through soul loops of taking it easy, guitars raiding in sixties funk galore- and it is sixties; it ends on a Monty Norman James Bond chord! True Crime goes further into musical nostalgia, the “shoo-dop” opening is as close to a Shirelles record as any you’re going to hear, complete with a Satisfactionesque fuzz riff.
Hard To Be Happy, Easy To Be Nice works best of all. This doesn’t sound like a post-modern sixties classic, this just sounds like a sixties classic. Sung with appropriate levels of John Lennon snarl (microphone reverb intact), this is a song that sings of optimising throughout pains gained and sustained, a nice midway piece between All You Need Is Love and Flowers In The Rain. Opening with an arresting John Paul Jones Zeppelin era bass riff, this is pop perfection, I can just imagine the dancing campfires with naked people clothed only with flowers over their bodies- don’t believe me? Well, how would you know? You weren’t there man, you weren’t there!
Strangely, and most definitely ironically, the track that tries hardest to invoke the Beatles also comes across as the most forced. For a song entitled George Harrison Beatle they seem to have completely misunderstood their inspiration, a soul searching hippie with no time for ego or hero-worship, contented with God and his garden. He would not have wanted this track, however well-intentioned the song is. And if anything, musically, this track sounds much more like Venus and Mars era Wings. Wearing your influences is one thing- but Mats Wawa fall into their own self-indulgent trap here.
That said, there are enough hooks and pop pitters here to merit them as the millennial answer to Badfinger, a band indebted to their influences, but with enough heart, cheer and musicianship to listen to them on their own right.
❉ Mats Wawa – New EP ‘Scuzz’ out 23 February via Black Pop Records on Vinyl 7” + Digital.
❉ Eoghan Lyng is a writer, part-time English teacher and full-time lover of life.