Drawn together from around the world and today based in Hackney, Splashh certainly look set to live up to their name, their first few singles creating a few ripples and waves in 2012, the band are now ready to take the plunge with their debut album ‘Comfort’. The quartet comprises frontman Sasha Carlson and drummer Jacob Moore both from New Zealand, bassist Thomas Beale from the considerably less glamorous surroundings of Telford and Australian guitarist and keyboardist Toto Vivian, who judging by name alone could easily take his place in any number of ‘70s glam bands. Their origins may well be geographically poles apart, but Splashh play as tight as any four-piece band worth their salt. Melodic basslines blend together effortlessly with buzz saw guitars and candied synths, Carlson’s languid vocal drawl a cherry on top of a delectable indie sundae.
Splashh specialise in three minute guitar pop earworms, the kind that makes you think you’ve heard them before, long ago, playing on a wireless in the back of your mind. They’re also of the sort that most DJs kill for at indie club nights. Vivian’s production tends to err more towards Kevin Shields than Stephen Street but it’s hardly any obstacle to infectious sing-along tracks like ‘Need It’. In fact, it’s a good thing their songs are as catchy as they are because at times it’s like the band are trying on too many sounds just to see what fits. They’ve cited Pixies, The Velvet Underground and Deerhunter as direct influences and there is evidence of each and more on the album, just about every iteration of alternative music rears its head as well, with three chord garage punk, grunge, Britpop and American college rock all making their presence felt at one point or another. The end result is that ‘Comfort’ has got a bit of something for everyone.
The album opens with five songs we already know back to back. ‘Need It’, ‘All I Wanna Do’ and ‘Vacation’ were originally released as singles in 2012 with ‘Headspins’ and ‘So Young’ as B-sides. Even though it will gall some fans to learn that they already own half the record, you’d be hard pressed to find a better opening statement from a debut all this year. Beginning with a classic Kim Deal bassline, a tinny ‘80s snare drum and a wonky guitar riff that only just sounds in tune on ‘Headspins’, Splashh take the Pixies’ sound and through some time travel trickery, manage to make it sound fresh by adding some spacey reverb in the chorus and late ‘70s post-punk keyboards. Following on from that we have, ‘All I Wanna Do’ which remains Splashh’s most immediate and best song. It combines the songwriting ease of Ray Davies and the more straightforward moments of Jason Pierce’s work with Spiritualized with just the right dosage of psychedelia.
In fact the band’s eagerness to indulge their trippy tendencies against their better instincts for a catchy tune is one of few criticisms that you can make of this album. ‘Vacation’ manages to stay on just the right side, its muddy flanged Peter Gunn riff and echoing mewls coming across like Pete Doherty at his worst, initially sounding like the band are drowning under the weight on their own effects. The explosive declaratory chorus of “I wanna go where nobody knows” saves the song however unexpectedly transforming it into an anthem for the alienated. The two closing tracks ‘Strange Fruit’ and ‘Lost Your Cool’ are nowhere near as memorable as the rest of the record, not quite matching the verve of the first half and ‘Green & Blue’ feels overly long at four and half minutes compared to the adrenaline rush of their other songs and that’s saying something when the album itself only clocks in at thirty three minutes in total. Check out their performances of Youtube and you’ll see that Splashh’s love for a lengthy mind-bending jam really comes out in the live setting. It really needn’t, like their cousins down under Tame Impala they’re at the best when they reign themselves in.
Thankfully the 13th Floor Elevators-isms of latest single ‘Feels Like You’ recognises this and delivers with a melody worthy of Carnaby Street in the swinging ‘60s. It also lifts the band out of a run of songs purely on the lyrical subject of what they want or need. It’s alright to want things guys but you don’t have to shout about it all the time, yeah? Nearly half an hour of hearing it can be exhausting. It’s only a minor setback though because after one listen to Splashh, no one expects Dylan-style insight into the human condition, you just wanna jump around like you’re a kid again and you’d had too much fizzy pop. A near perfect debut, this isn’t an album you need, but you’ll want it all the same.