You only have to read the band’s name and watch their EP teaser trailer to discover that Tetherball are not a band that take themselves too seriously. Their first EP, Pheromone Food, is a jazzy four track introduction to the band’s unique style.
‘Social Jedi’ is a strong first track; you can’t help but boogie along despite its sombre lyrics. On the surface it’s fun and exciting, but Tetherball have much more to say than that. Their dark lyrics combined with carefree melodies create some sort of musical oxymoron that breezes straight past awkward into humorous – a kind of crazy elevator music to dance and cry to, and it really, really works.
The second track ‘Chemicals’ challenges ‘Social Jedi’ for the best track on the album with punchy lyrics like “jump off a waterfall and kiss me with a baseball bat”, amidst their quickly recognisable – but not repetitive – quirky tones. This song has everything that the third track does not: conviction, sass and a brilliant melody.
All the tears without all the dancing, the third track on Pheromone Food ‘Waiting For Midnight’ is slightly disappointing, with cliché lyrics lacking the company of the bouncy melodies that distinguish Tetherball’s sound. This borderline melodramatic track would be more fitting on an REM record than amongst Tetherball’s otherwise exciting, carefree tunes, landing this track the position of a repetitive acoustic filler. Of course it’s more than reasonable for a band to experiment with different sounds to avoid the one-trick-pony label but ‘Waiting For Midnight’ neither contributes to nor provides an interesting deviation from Tetherball’s unique sound.
Only when the EP bounces back into its groovy, catchy style with final track ‘Killing Moon’, does it become apparent just how out of place ‘Waiting For Midnight’ is. While not as strong as the first two tracks, ‘Killing Moon’ further establishes the band’s sound with a pleasant sense of familiarity.
Prevalent throughout the EP is a real laughable irony with lyrics like “I’m alone and tumbling down this ladder” accompanied by lively melodies. Tetherball’s individualist method of discussing a range of different subjects is the sort of quality that can really distinguish a band, setting them apart from the hordes of rising alternative bands currently circling the industry.
Whilst perfectly suited for relaxed, late night listening, they don’t come across as a band who would be overtly impressive live, though this won’t necessarily be detrimental to their success – many similarly obscure alternative bands such as the likes of Villagers succeed despite their ‘tame’ live performances.
Give Pheromone Food a listen – if you can look past the slightly embarrassing noughties relaxation album artwork – because you’re certain to discover something a bit different.