The cover of These People depicts a seething mass of human bodies, the perfect analogy for the collection of tracks that Talk Show have brought to bear on the EP.
Frontman Harrison Swann says he wrote most of his lyrics on public transport – people-watching, observing, cataloguing. But the lyrical content of These People is not judgemental; rather, it holds a mirror to the way we live, leaving it up to the listener to draw conclusions.
In less than a quarter of an hour, Talk Show make an undeniable case for their ascension to a spot as critical darlings. These are four perfectly constructed windows into their collective psyche, a place of grim modernity and cynicism beyond their years.
Part of the current wave of post-punk washing across the indie landscape, Talk Show draw immediate comparisons to contemporaries Shame, helped in no small part by Swann’s broad mancunian delivery. He has the same direct authority as Charlie Steen, and an approachable everyman feel. A measure of intimidation is held back though, that he leans into when necessary. As on ‘Petrolhead’, with the fronftman insisting over and over that he’s “fitter than a butcher’s dog!’, verging on menace.
Swann’s delivery is just a fraction of Talk Show’s appeal. The production is superb, conveying their frenetic live energy, whilst actually remaining a touch lighter than much of the guitar music in circulation. This results in arrangements that are actually interesting, and on more than one occasion, tracks took a completely different direction than I expected. The band relish in building up and pulling down the separate layers of their sound, like children playing with food. But, when done with such a deft touch, it looks masterful.
The tracklist retains enough originality that none of these cuts feel staid or overdone. ‘Atomica’ is genuinely maniacal, with the bassline careening from side to side; hanging around in your head for days.
Singles ‘Stress’ and ‘Banshee’ have surprisingly singable choruses, a rare commodity in the punk world, and a mention must be given to Chloe MacGregor’s drums on ‘Banshee’, which remind of Jon Beavis’ work with IDLES (which for this critic is the gold standard for post-punk percussion).
On the afore-mentioned closer, ‘Petrolhead’, they let loose, with a dissonant riff searing its way out of the speakers. My only gripe is that a couple of the lines here don’t quite land, but that’s only because Swann has such a natural turn of phrase elsewhere on the EP.
Overall, this selection of tracks is the perfect introduction to a band that are firmly on their way up, and rightly so. If you want to see the future of post-punk, look no further.