Operahouse – Change In Nature EP (Marrakesh Records)

Charlie Ashcroft | Sunday, 12 October 2008

Operahouse – Change In Nature EP (Marrakesh Records)

The latest four-track offering from the London-based quintet hints at a new direction ahead of their autumn tour dates.

Singles such as 'Born A Boy' and 'Man Next Door' saw Operahouse dealing whole-heartedly in a foot-shuffling brand of Maccabees-esque powerpop to pretty good effect, with the young five-piece expanding their fanbase fairly rapidly towards the latter part of last year.

Now they’re back with an extended player which highlights an intent to push their sound in a different direction; we're talking less foot-tap, more slow-burn. There are fewer bursts of breakneck speed, but further examples of calculation and consideration in the songwriting of Johnny Lloyd and Jimmy Cratchley.

Initial clues in the EP’s title aside, proof of Operahouse’s stylistic departure is obvious from this new material. The title track kicks things off with an introduction finely punctuated with driving drum rhythms and glockenspiel twinkles before Lloyd’s vocals come to the fore. His newly-established singing technique brings to mind frontmen like Steve Bays of Hot Hot Heat and The Walkmen’s Hamilton Leithauser, with its quirkiness and fragility sometimes causing the vocals to outshine their accompanying instrumentation.

Despite this the title track is a definite grower after a few listens, thanks to its catchy chorus and intriguing lyrics. The closing song, 'Red Hats For The Masses', is probably the pick of the tunes on offer here though, providing an admirable range of guitar textures within its 'quiet-loud’ approach. The "money in a paper bag" refrain lives long after the song’s climax, suggesting that these lads have retained their knack of crafting a decent hook or two despite their sound’s change of pace.

Even though two of the four songs on the EP fall slightly flat and fail to stand out, there is enough quality in the opener and closer to imply that their debut album could be well worth a listen when it surfaces next year.

Rating: 3/5