Review Summary: The Envy Corps have a shirt on their website that says “Radiohead for Coldplay fans.” Seems like a fitting statement, but there is more to the band than just that.
It’s almost as if you took Radiohead’s very atmospheric music, smashed Thom Yorke and Chris Martin’s heads together for the vocals, put Flea in as the bassist and maybe grabbed a guitarist from Modest Mouse and/or The Black Keys, you might just have the music of It Culls You
in a fairly substantial sized nutshell. The heaviest influence definitely comes from Radiohead though. I only get a small feeling of Modest Mouse when it comes to the guitar and since I am not really familiar with these guys except for the singles they had when they first started getting mainstream success, that comparison could be a bit of a stretch. The feeling of The Black Keys comes in especially on songs like “Cmd + Q,” “Dipsomania” and “Palace on Stilts.” These 3 tracks have a more mid-tempo funk style, like on The Black Keys' album Brothers
, with more focus on groove based guitar and bass lines and even a somewhat similar vocal style, especially on "Palace on Stilts." Then there are the two tracks that feel like The Envy Corps have really made their own. “Ms. Hospital Corners” and “Exchequer” have this sense of urgency coupled with an almost dirty, gritty feeling that the rest of the album doesn’t have. These two tracks somewhat stick out compared to the rest and are probably my highlights. It Culls You
is a big mish-mash of styles and influences that the band has molded into a signature sound. The band dropped the more pop-heavy sounds of Dwell
and Kid Gloves
for a simpler, more melancholy and atmospheric style found on It Culls You
The album hits in at almost an hour long. Most of the songs are above the 4 minute mark, which is cool since it rarely feels like it’s dragging on. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of variety in the part writing though. The driving, fuzzy bass line on “Ms. Hospital Corners” is a perfect example of this. The bass takes center stage while the guitar hangs back at first, striking simple, short chords in the background then becoming more prominent towards the second half. The bass just has a nice groove to it and even though the pattern gets played for a solid chunk of the song, I never found myself getting sick of it. While there isn’t a ton happening from an instrumental stand point (except for the bass) on this album, the hooks and melodies are still done well and give the album a nice flow.
Another example of things getting a little repetitive can be heard on “Cmd + Q.” The song itself is a really strong track, but it repeats itself a lot. It has a catchy, funky guitar line on the verses and then trades with the bass so it can shine on the chorus. After the 2nd chorus, the guitars on the vocals literally sit on this tiny repeated section for almost 20 seconds before finally switching to a new chord to show some progression, even though it’s still the same pattern, before finally moving into the 3rd chorus. I thought my CD was skipping the first time I heard it. Then comes the outro, which is mostly just the verse riff combined with the chorus parts that lasts for almost a minute and half. If something new had been introduced I think it would have been a cool, extended outro, but we have heard everything it has to offer and it just feels like it goes on for too long. Luckily, this is rare. “In the Summer” is another example of this, but with more successful results. The already heard guitar arpeggio plays out for the last minute or so, but another guitar is added playing a chord progression in the background along with some synthesizers. They are mostly just supporting the bass though, which does some really impressive work. The entire track is just another example of some really strong bass playing on the album.
I know I’ve mostly been concentrating on the bass, but the vocals are quite good as well (which is interesting since they are performed by the same person). Whatever style the band is going with, the vocals always suit the mood of the song. The guitar can be interesting at times, but it tends to repeat itself quite often without variance and is usually pretty simple. “Med. Song” is a small departure from this, having a more active role and taking the lead with some very catchy lines, but at the same time the intro/verse part is played a little too often throughout the song. These are small gripes, but are things I noticed after repeated listens. This could be why The Envy Corps remind me a bit of the Red Hot Chili Peppers since I’ve always thought the same about them. The musical style itself may not be overly similar, but the way the guitar and bass are handled is.
While it may be a somewhat simplistic and/or stripped down writing style (which could be the norm in this style of music), I do believe it works for the guys and keeps It Culls You
feeling like a very focused offering from the Envy Corps. They had a specific sound they were shooting for and since they decided to release this on their own, they were able to stick to it and write it the way they wanted to without a label bearing down on them. Some albums can feel like just a collection of songs, but the tracks on It Culls You
really feel like they belong together. There’s a certain atmosphere and mood that remains constant throughout the entire album without the songs sounding overly similar to each other. It’s an impressive feat and I look forward to their next release.