Oxford boys Gunning For Tamar make a welcome return with their latest EP ‘Camera Lucida’. After the success of last year’s ‘Time Trophies’ EP, released as a stylish orange watch, and the very popular free download ‘Dark Sky Tourism’, it’s clear the four-piece are beaming with confidence and creativity and they are not scared of a bit of hard work – they have a 40-date tour coming up throughout March and April, which we highly recommend you catch at least one date of! ‘Camera Lucida’ has already caught the attention of some of the most popular alternative DJs, including those from XFM and Huw Stephens, and will surely soon be making it onto your playlist too.
Lead track ‘Yogging’ may open with piano lines that have a surprising classic slant, but this lasts for all of 10 seconds. This soothing sound is joined by crunching guitar riffs and a bass that quietly creeps in before D’Arcy King’s thrashing drums make their mark in true punk-rock style. Joe Wallis’ slightly distorted vocals talk of being ‘back together’ and he also ever-so-slightly sighs: ‘What a waste of energy, what’s the point?’, which adds a real depth of feeling and self-depreciation to the track, at odds with the buoyant atmosphere created by the instrumentation. When Joe sings: ‘We don’t have to fill every little silence with noise’ amidst a swelling climax of noise and melodies, it really does hit you. Already a live favourite in GFT sets, ‘Lights, Daggers and Faces’ opens with a joyfully jaunty and disjointed into. With plenty of Minus the Bear-style stop-start moments throughout the track, Joe has never sounded more assured than than when he sings: ‘It wears me, it wears me down’ and it becomes apparent this concept that will be returned to throughout the EP, although often in gloriously abstract fashion. This is the kind of song you can return to again and again without ever getting bored.
‘Another Season’ is a much calmer affair than the previous tracks and carries the essence of the great UK emo-rock bands of the early to mid-00s, something that’s even referenced in the lyrics: ‘We had the same favourite song in 2001’. Highly autobiographical and extremely honest, the track falls somewhere between Reuben’s calmer moments and Hell is for Heroes’ impassioned sincerity. As a listener, it’s clear just how much these words and this music means to the band. Meanwhile, ‘Swallower’ has a thoughtful post-hardcore feeling that will delight those who still miss Million Dead and Meet Me in St Louis. A full-out rock assault, it opens with an instant burst of vocals and guitar and Joe appears be having fun with the lyrical interplay as he sings: ‘It glows inside of me like a chrysalis, ready to burst’.
The closing track ‘How to Set Fire to Your Hands’ opens in rather ominous fashion as echo effects reverb around the downbeat lines: ‘I can tell when the weather’s changing through 20 little cracks in the ceiling’. While the music veers into progressive post-rock territory, the despondent tone is complemented by the lines of ‘I can tell I’m getting older, through the aching in my shoulder’. Just as GFT threaten to go all out for the big finish with ear-splitting and clattering drums, they expertly slow things down so that the EP finishes with the clarity of the words: ‘I can tell I’m getting older’. There’s a real confidence and established sound throughout the five tracks here and although some of the subject matter may seem despondent, there is so much assurance in the band’s sound that the EP is an inspirational call to arms – and possibly their strongest work yet.
‘Camera Lucida’ is released via Alcopop Records on 1 April.