Sahara: Intox EP (self-release)

Formidable first effort from math-pop outfit

Released Jul 9th, 2013 / By Larry Day
Sahara: Intox EP (self-release) Winchester/Basingstoke math-poppers Sahara may have only congealed less than a year ago, but their debut release, the Intox EP, belies the length of time they've spent together. They've been compared to Foals before – indeed, there's a lovely cover of 'Inhaler' on their YouTube account – and there is a hint of that, but they also carve out their own niche. They're not as stadium-rock as Foals have become; Yannis' distinct yowl is also missing, replaced by Laith Whitwham's pop-punk drawl. They may be wet behind the ears, but the quintet are adept at juggling polyrhythms and sculpting pop hooks; it's not perfect, but still plenty brilliant.

'Bloodhound' recalls The Futureheads or Maxïmo Park – it's all angular, jagged splinters of frenetic fretwork and post-punk percussion, rampantly rampaging right through bitter words from Whitwham. There's Bloc Party-esque conversation between lead, rhythm and bass guitars, which all furiously natter in the breakdown like beleaguered MPs. 'Milk Based' is a delightful pop charmer – a bit Two Door Cinema Club, with zippy little strumming – that contains some wonderful sun-bleached indie moments. It's got a rousing chorus of: 'It'll take a milk based one in the morning/ can't just use any old alkali' which may not be the most sensical slogan, but it's anthemic nonetheless – you can imagine sunburnt beach BBQ-ers tanked on cheap beer yelling it to the high heavens as dusk descends.

They've clearly done their homework. A lot of indie-pop/rock bands are alluded to on the debut EP, which is fine – they're still finding their sonic identity. The roots are there, but for the next release, we want to see it blossom. Less of the namechecking and more of the biting choruses, rhythmic flippancy and prickly guitar riffs. It's a formidable first effort that satiates for now, and leaves room for improvement. If this is what they've conjured in a year, there's no question we'll see big things come of them as time unfurls.