Oxford's Hanging Out With The Cool Kids is fast becoming a label to look out for, and this split EP from The Young Knives and Smilex shows why. Both bands have built up impressive touring resumes; The Young Knives have gigged with the likes of The Futureheads and Supergrass, while Smilex have traversed the country with The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster and Pretty Girls Make Graves. As with all great split EP's, each band brings to the table two songs; a new single, and a cover of a track from the other bands back catalogue.
Of the two singles here on offer, it's Smilex's 'Rock 'n' Roll Russian Roulette' that impresses the most. Beginning with a simple strumming guitar and a clever opening line, _"Two hit singles and they're pieces of shit in your latest game of Rock 'n' Roll Russian Roulette_", Simplex's A-Side flies by quite nicely. Their jagged yet melodic style evokes early Pixies, which isn't a bad thing at all, and tighter production on their next release would certainly give them a fighting chance of exposure on a wider level. Meanwhile, The Young Knives' 'The Decision' is quirky enough, with a marriage of manic lead vocals, Steely Dan backing vocals, and a Dick Dale-light surf guitar solo (although more Brighton than Waikiki). It's a shame then that on this showing the band seem tame and in-cohesive, drifting between the flowery Highly Evolved-era Vines one moment before turning towards an Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disasters' vocal style, which fails to hold your attention.
However, The Young Knives really spark when covering Smilex's 'Sex For Sale', building up steam over a dirty, muddy first half before launching into a frenetic finale, which would no doubt leave live audiences gagging. Smilex's return the favour with their version of The Young Knives' 'Rollerskater', which worringly begins like a take on the coffee shop blandness of Morcheeba's The Sea, before jumping into a mix of Madchester wooziness and the riffing psychedelia that Urge Overkill mastered in the mid 90s. This track also contains the EP's funniest moment, when at the 1m20s mark Henry from The Young Knives can be clearly heard in the background offering his opinion of his label mates (_"I quite like Smilex. They're great_"). You're not the only one Henry.
6Euan McLean's Score