reviewed by Kaitlin Ruether
There’s a late-night neon-light gritty alleyway feel to Debate Club’s EP Fish Fry. You want to be surrounded by people to it. You want to be completely alone with it blasting into your ears. However you want to hear it, it demands to be the only thing with your attention. “oxys” kicks off with a heavy, heady guitar foundation and not-quite-shouting vocals. It’s a taste, the threading of the needle. We’re set up for what’s next.
“elephant shoe” is where Debate Club ascends: a nostalgic old western cinematic guitar drawl pairs with well-timed overlapping vocals. Where “oxys” catches your attention, “elephant shoe” is emphatically addictive. “its not love” ushers in surfy guitars to create an upbeat post-punk tune and you can almost feel the hot summer night as the lyrics repeat, “It’s not love. It’s alright”.
Debate Club are from Montreal and release their music on the French label Beko, but the tracks on Fish Fry are in English. “dépêche”, the third track, translates to “dispatch”, but the buried vocals are hard to make out until the familiar child’s rhyme allusion: “again we spin and all fall down”. “just you wait” takes a different approach and lets the humbled narrator be matter-of-fact: “Yes it’s true I’m out of line, standing outside of wonderland, and I know, I won’t wait, I won’t wait, I won’t wait.”
“the upside down” feels like a continuation of “just you wait” through cadence, but the melody shifts. Aptly, it adds to the sense of off-kilter, “upside down” that the lyrics suggest. The endless guitar and steady drum fills help create this tension. We’re back in that hazy neon alley, feeling the crunch of gravel beneath our feet, but dancing regardless, wondering what we’ll want to do next.
Top Track: “Elephant Shoe”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)