Since they emerged back in 2019, Brighton-based Egyptian Blue have undergone some changes. The band’s debut album, ‘A Living Commodity’, is a refreshing blend and reinvention of classic punk and indie-rock, signalling a new era of assurance after an unsettling pandemic-induced hiatus.
Much of ‘A Living Commodity’ captures a cathartic release of control. Egyptian Blue’s biggest asset is undeniably their impressive use and manipulation of the guitar. In the opening of ‘Skin’, an effortlessly cool riff gives the impression that we are eavesdropping on a grungy jam session. Meanwhile, in subsequent track ‘In My Condition’, choppy strumming patterns are effectively blended with a lighter indie-rock feel reminiscent of the 2000s.
There are some notable highlights on ‘A Living Commodity’. ‘Apparent Cause’, ‘Suit Of Lights’ and ‘To Be Felt’, show how the band are able to pull-off engaging structural shifts, transitioning from eery softness to searing intensity. Though this trio of songs features later in the record, their placing and emotional control are reflective and considered. The first of the three is a memorable contrast to the body of Egyptian Blue’s released work. Unsettling and striking, ‘Apparent Cause’ carries the energy of a Radiohead track, demonstrating Egyptian Blue’s ability to flex their musicality in this moment of genre-bending experimentation.
Despite the power of Egyptian Blue’s instrumentals, there are moments in this album where vocals edge on not quite matching the accompanying inventiveness of their songs’ construction. Their shouting-style vocals veer into monotony and tend to fade into the background soundscape of specific tracks.
That’s not to say that this completely draws from the momentum and emotional intensity of ‘A Living Commodity’. In fact, quite the opposite. It’s difficult to find a track that doesn’t explore the harsh truths of deep-seated agitation and overwhelming angst. The record kicks off with the explosive ‘Matador’, closely followed by similarly energetic ‘Nylon Wire’. Even the rhythmic and harmonic clashes in closing track ‘Geisha’ highlight the clearly planned builds and arcs of each song, as well as of the album more broadly.
‘A Living Commodity’ is a deeply introspective body of work at its core. The album’s titular track is a powerful reminder of this. Vocals are employed more thoughtfully throughout this song. “I’ve survived the lies of the game,” sings frontman Andy Buss, as Egyptian Blue honestly contend with the realities of their past and present.
Egyptian Blue’s latest project signals a band in the process of maturing. In comparison to their previous EPs, ‘A Living Commodity’ has significantly more variety and shifts in tone, indicating a much more thoroughly considered exploration of emotion and trauma. “Am I so highly strung?” asks the band in the closing line of ‘In My Condition’, reflecting ‘A Living Commodity’s constructed manifestation of aggression and anxiety. Culminating in emotional catharsis, this exciting debut album is also Egyptian Blue’s first real demonstration of musical maturity and freedom. May it only continue.
Words: Charlotte Grimwade