Brighton’s Negative Measures are back with their riotous EP “Demotivational Speeches” (Big Word Records), maintaining their hardcore roots from previous single “Graves” and venturing into the realm of punk. It’s Black Flag all over again with ragged, sludgy riffs and scratchy screams in tracks like “Nothing Will Change” and “Reality,” painting a picture that is both ominous and intriguing. You can practically hear Henry Rollins yelling, “Rise above, we’re gonna rise above!”
The band do a good job of maintaining control while they explore this new world, using tracks like “SAP” to beef out grungy guitars and raw, shouted vocals, whereas tracks like “Justify” give more insight to their hardcore roots that draws the viewer back in, not that they were losing focus anyway. Balance is key here, and it does not feel sporadic and overwhelming but rather calculated and shameless, breathable chaos. Negative Measures do a good job not overdoing it as they break the boundaries of their artistic approach.
That being said, “Personality Factor” was almost a shock when it came on. It opened with rasping clean vocals that were almost out-of-place as the only such song, which was unfortunate seeing as it truly was quite striking and evocative and added to that familiar “UK punk” feel. It would’ve been stronger had it been incorporated into the other tracks. Despite the imbalance, however, the song and the EP were successful and damn enjoyable. It’s exciting to see what the band do next, as they have some solid groundwork laid out ahead of them.
The songs are short and to the point and it’s the underground quality that adds to the punk feel, though that’s not to say it will go away when the band rise from basements. Even the cover boasts a DIY vibe (art by Hannah Waterman) with contours and smudges that are anything but simple.
Negative Measures is Jack Goring on vocals, Tommy Ashcroft on guitar, Arthur James on drums, and Hannah Waterman on bass. Demotivational Speeches was recorded over three days with Marc Waterman (Elastica, Yuck, Rise) at London’s Blue Studios, featuring an accumulation of two years’ worth of deliberation and hard work. It is available on Soundcloud and Bandcamp along with Negative Measures’ discography, as well as physical copies and merch by Elliot James.