Marmozets have always been a band for who ideas are rarely in short supply, but who could face difficulties in honing them.
For three years, the Yorkshire five-piece – made up of two sets of siblings – have been tearing up the underground, a buzz and a whiff of excitement following them wherever they go. It was not hard to see why: first was the music – wild riffing, technical metal, berserk changes of mood and direction, with thrills, spills and much else in between. Then there was the performance: the band would be in the crowd, flat on their backs, howling, screaming, kicking and fighting; they might have been second on at a dingy south London pub, but they were always both playing to a thousand people and for only themselves. And lastly there was Becca Macintyre, the band’s singer and sister to guitarist Sam and drummer Josh. She has long possessed a voice to both chill spines and set hair on end, a bewildering ability to effortlessly move from tenderness to out-and-out wail. It’s hard to think of someone who has done it so well since Skin was at her peak in Skunk Anansie.
Fortunately all that early promise, all that energy and dynamism, is all still there on their debut album. After signing to Roadrunner and spending an age making their debut, it could so easily have become overthought, overproduced, or even overindulged. But on The Weird And Wonderful Marmozets they manage (just about) to resist the urge to jerk in a thousand directions at once, and instead deliver a record of divergent moods, near tactile textures and widespread ambition without ever spreading themselves too thin.
That said, they’re at their best when they’re at their simplest. Hit The Wave allows Macintyre’s voice to take centre stage as she moves from breathy ethereality into aggression and then from melancholy into triumph over guitars that might sound like Biffy Clyro one minute, then something entirely different the next. Back To Me is another, slower, more epic piece of rock writing: chiming guitars echo with pathos before a vocal that is defiant and strong. These are the songs that may take them to a wider audience and more mainstream success. Cry, which closes the album, is another slow one that tingles emotions before metallic guitars stab it in the heart.
But that’s to pick the spine-tinglers only. The band’s reputation was hardly built on songs like these and it’s in the pounding, jerky and angry opener Born Young And Free that they announce that they’re not only a band with ideas but they are also able to deliver a soaring chorus and a brilliant melody that lodges instantly. Why Do You Hate Me? is another, this one built on a winding riff that instantly dissolves into something more propulsive. And there are plenty more Is It Horrible? is a belter, Love You Good is an out-and-out banger, while Move, Shake, Hide alternates between being something you would only ever listen to at full volume to being something you sing along to at top volume.
There are times it doesn’t quite work so well – Vibe Tech, perhaps, is too much of the old tech-metal wildness, a song to show off techniques rather than one to be enjoyed by a listener – but that’s a minor bad note to what is an ambitious but sensationally realised debut.