Full of the mad cap experimentalism we’ve come to expect from the North East’s very own Flaming Lips, Periphery finds the Heads perhaps as far out as we’ve seen them so far in their search for interesting pop music, original sonic arrangements, and big ideas.
Paradoxically, their first EP release also finds them in moments of their least veiled; for whilst the narratives of Head of Light entertainment could never be defined as obvious, there’s certainly a number of political references bubbling up to the surface across this release. In that sense there’s more than a hint of REM in Periphery; four pop lovers looking for a respite against serious, sensible, messages. But doing a better job than the rest of them put together.
Opener ‘While you’re undressing’ sets the standard for the EP by proving that whilst combining a variety of vocals, instruments and pounding drums all together sounds like it should never work; it can, and does, when you spend time arranging them properly and centring them around a consistent pop hook. A moment of harmonic wonder mid-way through the track, as well as a ‘nah nah’ outro, provides evidence that as far as the Heads venture (and we’re talking fun fair sounds at the start of the record) they’re never too far from their pop roots.
Progressing with the pop earworms, ‘Dipping in and out’, starts out as a straightforward singalong pop track before taking surprising melodic twists and turns; perhaps an attempt to hide cleverly veiled adult theme’s already hidden behind childlike conversations (‘Now no one can decide what your game is, but I love how you work’).
We see a similar format on final track, and REM ‘Monster’ era ‘Little blue and green marble’, which blossoms with its guitar styled glam riff. Part hypnotic, part indie, ‘Little Blue’ uses interesting pop moments to, perhaps, deflect from underlying messages (“the world is a marble rolling off a table top”) and whilst the gentle ‘Safe’ keeps us focused on the sound of the EP rather than its core messages, the game is up for the Heads and their secrets are out.
Periphery is a huge leap forward for the Heads; they’ve always had the sound and the skill, now they have subtlety and purpose. And where they used to be so veiled and secretive now they’re inviting us in. And it’s a nice place to be.