Last year I happened to chance on Ninetails’ Ghost Ride the Whip and was immediately struck by how mature and confident they sounded, even though it was their debut release. Despite it being a very short EP featuring only three tracks, the Liverpool-based band certainly made an impact that created musical ripples which definitely turned heads at the time. Although, some wrote them off as being another indie ‘hype’ band that would end up being recycled into NME toilet paper. While it was a good EP with a distinct sound and influences I was left with an unresolved impression of the band, it was too fleeting and I wanted to hear more. Well, over a year on Ninetails are back with a new, equally impressive EP with almost double the material (five whole tracks!) that aim to impress; but is it enough to drag them out of obscurity?
This EP definitely establishes their ‘math rock’ intentions but suggests their inspiration was born from a very eclectic range of influences. Slept and Did Not Sleep’s tone sways sleepily between a calming ambience to rhythmic indie-pop reminiscent of Everything Everything and complex arrangements similar to Battles. Although mostly comprised of delicate guitar riffs and ambient whimsy there are definite bluesy vibes that occasionally come to the fore on more gentle tracks like the opener Maybe We. What really defines this EP is how all of these influences interweave and create a sense that you are listening to one seamless narrative, not a series of individual tracks. The second track Body Clock sounds like two completely different songs as it gradually evolves from being a jumpy, pop-fuelled number into a more sombre and tonally dark affair. Sadly though there is a lack of material despite the longest track, Boxed In, being some eight minutes in length. It is little more than white noise which isn’t particularly constructive, other than to provide a break between tracks. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though as it does demonstrate Ninetails’ experimental nature which sets them apart from most of their contemporaries.
The two most notable tracks are definitely Rawdon Fever, a joyous and lively tune which is probably the most complex arrangement with a bluesy bass meshed with twangy guitar riffs. It was definitely the turning point for me as it is the first really distinctive track that changes the tone tremendously. Mama Aniseed is another lively track with some sharp vocals that again echo Everything Everything and a rhythmic skill comparable to Grizzly Bear, while still maintaining a distinctive sound.
Overall this is a nice little EP that soothes and intrigues and builds on nicely from the band’s debut. It is a little frustrating that we are yet to see a full album from Ninetails and, although mature and well constructed, it only seems like a snippet of what the band are capable of. There is a sense that they are still exploring and we don’t yet have a clear picture of what they can really do. However, Slept and Did Not Sleep is a notable and promising sign that they might not become back page of NME fodder and could become a force to be reckoned with.
Slept and Did Not Sleep by Ninetails is out on 10th December via Superstar Destroyer Records.