Post-hardcore is a rather slippery term – promiscuously pervasive, yet inconsistently defined. John Reis’ (Rocket From The Crypt, Drive Like Jehu) framing – ‘What hardcore turned into for us. Where it went next’ – is perhaps the most persuasive definition that I’ve encountered. Yet, even on those terms, it is surprising how many post-hardcore releases seem prepared to trade technicality for the traits of aggression and passion that lend hardcore its very vitality.
Thankfully, it is clear from the off, that we should have no such fears in the hands of Dublin’s Hubert Selby Jr. Infants. Yes, theirs is a more expansive palette but one that never loses sight of its hardcore roots. The bedrock of their sound lies in a fiercely fluid rhythm section that underpins the driving guitars, which unfurl both satisfyingly muscular riffage and infectiously dark melodies with equal relish. Gruffly impassioned vocals provide the perfect complement as the lyrics sardonically explore the battles to maintain relationships and integrity in the face of an increasingly fractured society.
Musketeers kicks off the EP with a hauntingly lo-fi refrain (‘Hey my lovelies, don’t be shy, Quiet as my voice is, here’s a rallying cry’) before unleashing the band’s full surging power, while People Skills (‘You don’t get to level a house that you didn’t build’) sees chugging, metallic-tinged guitars develop a more assertive tone. As powerful as this opening is, the flipside takes things up another notch with the swaggering melancholy of Misery Hill (‘Through a bus window at 6am, condemned to see the dawn again, the grey unveiling commuter parade’) and the anxious slow-build intensity of closer Yes/No (‘Lost at a ticker parade, where it’s raining brightly painted razor blades’). So, take properly crafted song writing, add a dash of Dive Dive, a splash of Dead Or American, and stir through with a good slug of Hooton 3 Car’s bleakly heartfelt melodicism, and you will find yourself there or thereabouts.
Made up of four underground lifers and with one previous self-released EP in the chamber, Dublin-based Hubert Selby Jr Infants mark their first year as a band with their vinyl debut on Scene Report Records. Welding post-hardcore abrasion to melodies that stick in the head for days, Have You Ever Been a Crow…Or an Eel is a bolt of nervous energy and anxious melody that comes on like Sebadoh covering the 90s Dischord catalogue in the back room of a Dublin dive bar. The musical equivalent of being slapped in the face and hi-fived at the same time, these 4 songs are a vibrant snapshot of old dogs learning new tricks, recorded live in the studio by Shaun Cadogan at Last Light Studios. Featuring former members of Art Of Burning Water, Drainland, and Estel.
—Scene Report Records