David Young offers his opinions on self-proclaimed ‘heavy-pop band’, Estrons.
Okay let’s start with the positives. The crowd had a great time listening to Estrons’ set. There were some gnarly mosh-pits and stage-diving was frequent, often orchestrated by lead singer Taliesyn Källström herself, who invited the most fervent fans up on stage before encouraging them to jump into the melee. It looked like a lot of fun. At one point the crowd demanded Estrons play ‘Belfast’, for which they recently released a video, and despite having previously said they weren’t planning on playing it, they duly obliged. Good decision – ‘Belfast’ is easily their best song. It has a great Dr Feelgood-style choppy guitar riff and recalls Lullabies to Paralyze-era Queens of the Stone Age with its parsimonious power. Källström’s second-wave feminist lyrics on tracks like ‘I’m Not Your Girl’ and ‘Call You Mine’ are important contributions to the contemporary indie music scene, which is shamed by the continuing problems of sexual harassment at gigs and industry prejudice against female musicians.
But there’s not much more of praise, or even of note, to say about Estrons. Their set suffers from a formulaic approach, and their songs from chronic blandness. Every song is a shouty call-to-arms-style anthemic rock offering, but with uninspiring lyrics and sub-par riffs. Sole guitarist Rhodri Daniel bears the responsibility of providing the musical interest, with the bass adding nothing salient, and simply fails to come up with the goods – except on ‘Belfast’. Every song goes for crunchy chord-based riffs, but there is a complete lack of complexity and melodic invention. There are no counter-melodies, there are barely any guitar solos – it’s as if there is just rhythm guitar, no lead.
And points of interest aren’t provided by Källström either. Her lyrics are vague, non-specific and offer not a glimpse of personality. One of her choruses is actually “give it all until there’s nothing left”. Another sounded suspiciously like “you make my body go ooh ooh ooh”. Sure, she delivers her lyrics with conviction and intensity, but they’re so vague and clichéd that they seem more like parroted tropes than original artistic expressions.
When the riffs are good, and Källström’s lyrics have the meaningfulness to match, then the formula does work – the intensity of it can even be intoxicating, like hard rock should be. But more often than not it isn’t. And Estrons offer no alternative option – there are no moments of lightness, softness, no change to the guitar textures, or singing style, or tempo. Homogeneity seems to be the guiding principle. Even the stage lights remain red throughout the set.
Estrons are capable musicians and something clearly speaks to the fans in North London tonight, but they have limited musical imaginations. They simply can’t get away with having such plain riffs, especially if the lyrics can’t compensate for the lack of interest and invention. Estrons aren’t offensively bad, nor annoying, nor even boring – they are bland. But listen to ‘Belfast’ – ‘Belfast’ is good.
Featured image: Clash Magazine.