If you're looking for music that stands apart from crowded sonic trends without sacrificing tunefulness, Halifax's Bombnivores are dealing in just what you need. In Tension, the duo's third release, is bursting at the seams with ambition and restless inventiveness drawn from an impressively wide sampling of influences.
Easiest to distil as art rock, there are obvious touchstones like Radiohead, but it's very specifically Kid A-era Radiohead, with a shot of adrenaline. "Distributive Abyss" nails the spacey Rhodes keys, slinky bass and complex beat work of some of that album's best moments while investing unique energy into the composition. Elsewhere, In Tension recalls the sophisticated chord voicings and syncopated grooves of Dirty Projectors before switching gears to something more akin to the cinematic swagger of Portishead. Strains of Xiu Xiu's catchiest side bubble up in richly detailed yet rawly realized production that occasionally marries baroque tendencies with synth pop.
In its heavier moments, tricky timings punctuate haze atmospherics and darkly buzzing synth bass in a way that suggests more than a passing familiarity with Blonde Redhead. But "Android Crush" is so much funkier and more urgent than anything that band's done in ages. Bombnivores are ready to explode. You can feel it.
It's to the credit of the multi-tasking twosome's melodic and textural distinction (Jamie Larade's skilful drumming, sampling and bass mixed with Sheldon Kelly's vocals, keys and still more crunk-ass bass) that Bombnivores manage to wear their influences on their sleeves without coming off as derivative; their musical genome is fairly mappable if you have as deep a love of alternative music as they clearly do, but what they do has evolved into its own creature.
And what a beautiful, fascinating creature it is. In Tension is one of the best albums of 2017, its makers the most exciting new group I've heard in years. (Independent)