No Brain, No Pain is the third EP from self-described Art-Rock band SPQR from Liverpool. Art-Rock is a very general term, but it perfectly encapsulates the weird mix that SPQR pours into their songs. There are elements of repetitive, driving post-punk offset with synth-laden softer textures, alt-pop, and punk, all explored within a short four-track EP. Despite its brevity, the record benefits hugely from their fearless genre-hopping.
SPQR’s central sound is built around a trio of guitars, bass, and drums, and first track ‘Nuthin Gud’ begins with a wiry, guitar-focused aesthetic. It carries on for most of the song living in that alt-rock space, but towards the end of the song, it becomes downtempo and synth-heavy, accompanied by polyrhythmic drums and interesting vocals. This shift is tremendously smooth and natural and leaves the song in a very different place to where it began.
Thom Yorke (Radiohead) style fluid vocals on ‘Just Sumfin’ contrast with the tight, pop vocals on the title track to really exhibit vocalist Peter Harrison’s versatility, and during these next two songs, the band explores new ground. No Brain No Pain treads a line between rock instrumentation and electronics, never quite settling either side of the line. This tension propels the song forward, underpinned by a strong bassline. This particular song recalls a band like Foals penchant for a summery, tropical feeling.
Closing track ‘Loves Summer’ has a collaged, fragmented approach, adding in small embellishments and interjections of backing vocals and guitar effects to grow and shape the texture of the song. It’s the best example of SPQR’s songwriting approach on the EP; incorporating many genres to land in entirely new ground and sounding very comfortable in doing so.
SPQR exhibits mastery of a range of genres on their newest EP, and all indications are there that a full-length album exploring each facet of the band’s sound would be very successful. The fact that the EP’s sound remains very consistent throughout all this experimentation is something that SPQR have managed to pull off brilliantly. Ones to watch for the future in the indie-punk sphere for certain, and hopefully wider than that.