In their eMusic Selects video, EULA lead singer and guitarist Alyse Lamb recalls her “What the fuck is THIS!?” reaction, as a young girl, watching PJ Harvey going inspiringly berserk on MTV: Who was this woman “raving at the screen” with her “crazy, crazy dissonant music,” Lamb wondered? The shock, it turns out was a salutary one: Polly Jean, in her gloriously unhinged mid-’90s “50 Ft. Queenie” phase, is as good a place to start with the life-affirming racket of EULA, our latest eMusic Selects act, as any. With a feral whoop pitched somewhere between Harvey, Poly Styrene, and a baby Valkyrie with a blood-stained grin, Lamb plays the demonic cheerleader for Maurice Narcisse, one of the most infectious post-punk parties we’ve been invited to in awhile.
“Dirty Hands,” the opening track, tells you almost everything you need to know in one shot. The song is all about the various metaphorical joys of being dirty, and the bass, which squirts out of the song sounding greased with something you wouldn’t touch without gloves on, communicates that same joy. “I have dirty hands, dirty teeth, you don’t care!” Lamb exults, and you can hear the internalized Polly Jean, both in the body shame/body pride strut of the sentiment and in the batshit warcry ululations she lets fly in between verses.
The band is a small unit – just Lamb on vocals and chicken-scratchy wire-barbed guitar, Jeff Maleri on bass, and Nate Rose on drums, but they kick up a massive racket, one that feels like chewing gum rubbed in glass. Loose and rubbery in the bass, jerky and over caffeinated in the drums, topped with Lamb’s squealing sour fight-song chants, EULA’s groove mingles low-rent sleaze with righteous punk rally cries. There is a lot of implied fucking on Maurice Narcisse – “You had me crawling on the ceiling/you had me pinned up on the wall/oh lord, oh lord” Lamb chants on “Oh Lord!” over a tiny blip of drum machine that resembles a pair of rolling hips transmuted into an animated .gif.
They can downshift well, too, into far sinister territory: “Bone Density” is a bump and grind beset with fever chills, body joy slipping into body horror. The percussion sounds on the song come from sources as far-flung as a smashed bag of potato chips and a box of tacks. And then there’s the breath-catching single-take acoustic number “Hollow Cave,” Lamb’s voice shrinking to asphyxiated church-mouse size over tentative strums. “Knowing it’s the final time I really wake up by your side,” she coos, her voice breaking. It’s a startling moment of vulnerability that hints at the range of things EULA can do. For now, they’ve recorded this knockout, joyful high-kick of an album. We couldn’t be prouder of it.