Atmospheric, tense guitar lines ebb and flow against melancholic, jangly chord changes. Echoed in the background, a shimmering guitar line plays high on the fret board before the bass and drums kick into gear. There are no words. Just an instrumental build. An impressive one at that, simultaneously triumphant yet forlorn, a trait Alexisonfire perfected years ago, as the distortion builds upon the solid foundation set earlier. This is Thieves Don’t Steal From Empty Houses, the intro track off of Sydney based emo-punk band Regionals latest EP, Teenage Séance. And the band leave no time to breathe as they move into second track, Misery Guts.
A solid snare and bass kick combo introduces Misery Guts after the satisfying build of Empty Houses. The vocals are powerful and are complimented by the dynamic guitar work of Regionals. Echoing guitar lines linger in the background when the vocals take on a subdued approach, only to stomp in with thick distortion to support the commanding lead vocals in the chorus. The chorus crescendos as the vocalist wails “I’ve seen better days,” cymbals crash against thick bass kicks and a heavy wall of sound bellowing from the guitars. At five and a half minutes, the track does ask for all of your attention, emotion and energy as Regionals weave an emotive story told with an exhausting amount of highs and lows.
Third track The More I Take, The Less I Have takes on a similar approach to classic emo tunes in what seems to be a winning, albeit familiar, formula from Regionals. The band do break away from genre clichés with smart, evocative lyrics and a strong sense of atmosphere in their music. A trait shown on the next track Steady Hands; smartly crafted, an almost withheld approach to the band’s song writing. Where other tracks on the EP have shown the band’s dynamic range, often multiple times in one song, Steady Hands showcases Regional’s true strengths: clever use of tension. The band can create an intriguing atmosphere with moody guitar lines that gradually build upon each other after each verse. The pay off at the end of the track is a crescendo that feels earnt, call and response refrains against a powerful instrumental performance.
The EP closes with the title track, Teenage Séance. A fitting closer to the five track EP, Regionals steer the momentum of the song with crashing cymbal breakdowns and soaring guitar riffs. The enjoyably cacophonous outro to Teenage Séance suddenly stops though, the dynamic finish shifts to a lofi guitar riff and subdued drum rhythms as if someone flicked a switch on the fullness of the band’s sound. It’s a jarring closure, but doesn’t detract away from a solid finish to the EP.
Regionals show promise in their latest five track release. Their clever manipulation of tension and dynamics in their song writing separates the band from many of their genre contemporaries. And it’s a trait that will bring me back into the fold when I see another Regionals release. At the end of the day, it will be the clever song writing and dynamic instrumentals that will keep me intrigued for a full album.
Teenage Seance is now available on streaming platforms and Bandcamp.