If it were possible to capture the screech of the last tube train on a Saturday night grinding along the rails and then morph it into an urgent melody you’d probably end up with a sound similar to Maps - support act for The Earlies’ Scala show. You’d probably be mighty glad you caught that musical tube too revelling in the cacophony rather than bemoaning Mayor Ken’s extortionate price hikes. All of which acts as a rather neat introduction to The Earlies.
Anyone familiar with the ‘sardines in a can’ closeness of commuter’s bodies on a rush hour Victoria line train will have recognised the tight squeeze of fitting 11 members of this Anglo-US ‘prog-rock-folk-psych’ combo and their various musical instruments on the small Scala stage. But rather than whinging about having someone’s arm pit in your face, ruing the look you know your boss will give you for being late or imploring the girl listening to James Blunt too loudly to turn it down this journey is nothing but a pleasure.
The stage might be small but the sounds, and the Earlies’ ambitions, are big. This lot don’t do things by halves. Why have one drummer, flutist or melodica player when you can have two? Where other acts might drown each other out or trample on each other’s toes the Earlies just egg each other on to better things. They’re like kids daring each other to jump from an ever-higher branch of a tree. And all this is delivered with such child–like earthy warmth; introducing No Love they announce ‘this song is about love and shit’. No need to apologise for the ‘shit’ when love is expressed as sweetly as this!
The sound, and indeed image, of The Earlies is of an overgrown school orchestra. The music teacher has nipped out into the corridor to sort out a fight and so left to their own devices the kids rock out to the sounds that please them most. Think of the opening to The Simpsons – the part where Lisa stuns the rest of the orchestra to silence by veering off into a freeform Sax solo. The Earlies are only the orchestra that Lisa deserved. They would have had the gumption to stick with her, providing the accompaniment to whatever musical imaginations she might have conjured. Singing ‘it’s alright to let yourself down tonight’ your reviewer was tempted to reach out to tap the ‘fists aloft’ guitar player on the shoulder and say ‘don’t worry mate, you’ve no let anyone down tonight’. Check em out, you won’t be disappointed.