Album Reviews

Middleman: Cut Out the Middleman EP

With their debut, the London collective release one of the year’s best EPs.

Those who have spent years wondering what a Wipers and Mission of Burma collaboration would have sounded like now have the answer.

They are called Middleman.

The London band, consisting of Noah Alves (vocals, guitar), Harper Maury (bass) and Lily Pym (drums) storm onto the scene with their excellent debut EP, Cut Out the Middleman. Having already caught the ear of Steve Lemacq, let’s hope Middleman don’t go down the paths of Idles and Fontaines D.C., because, well… they are too important for that.

While some bands may make a rod for their own back based on the quality of their early work, should Middleman stick to the same DIY principles of their influences, then they may just be okay.

And speaking of influences, the artwork to Cut Out the Middleman spells Wipers homage. Make no mistake, though – these youthful souls don’t deal in pastiche. Whilst probably boasting good record collections (or crate-digging through their parent’s assortment of ragged first pressings and frayed of 7 inches), Middleman present proto-punk in thrilling new ways, leaving the competition for dust.

Soulside: A Brief Moment in the Sun

While across the pond, the youthful zest of Chicago’s Lifeguard and Horsegirl have provided a refreshing outlook where young bands producing vital new sounds is concerned, now we can look a bit closer to home. Middleman have the world at their feet. Yes, they are that good.

Recorded by Ben Spence and mixed and mastered by Fucked Up’s Jonah Falco, the carnage starts with Train Man. The kind of diesel-fuelled screaming mess Hüsker Dü gave us with New Day Rising, this is noise that reaches for the skies in what is one of the finest guitar-based songs committed to tape in 2022.

Middleman - Cut Out the Middleman

With a song so good, you can’t imagine Middleman bettering it, but they do their best, starting with the flustered presence of Turn Away – a pure Wipers worship ditty that hits you in the solar-plexus (“Out of the Ashes/My head is spinning seeing red”).

Lead track, Entropy, meddles in the sweaty mosh pits of post-hardcore. And it comes out as a worthy victor, with feral spasms, anthemic grooves and a low-end bass chug that’s like a rattle at the back of the throat.

Lifeguard Interview: “We are definitely influenced by both Fugazi and Unwound”

It all comes to grinding halt with One Day We Will Be Strangers – the kind of number presented by a group showing maturity beyond their years. “I take the lonely road/Because it’s the only one I know”, sings Alves with a voice seemingly dipped in gravel. The song, swirling with drama and blustery harmonics to match in what is a fitting end to a journey that amalgamates splintered noise with reach-for-the-sky euphoria.

Middleman are the type of band that makes guitar-based music exciting again, and while we all have to wade through enough substandard tropes in this space to get to the good stuff, make no mistake: Middleman’s Cut Out the Middleman is that and so much more.

Cut out the Middleman is out Friday via Brainrotter Records. Purchase from Bandcamp

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

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