EP Review: Equipment – ‘Miracle’

Posted: by The Editor

photograph by @emmaleejams

When Equipment announced their new EP Miracle this week through their Bandcamp, the message came with a brief note from vocalist Nick Zander, saying, “these were very spur of the moment songs that we basically just finished recording. i had some stuff i had to get out of my brain.” That spur of the moment feel shines through and there’s a looseness to everything here that works great—the almost-too-quick pick scratches halfway through “Monkey Ball Gatekeeper (Cinnamon),” the gaggle of guitars on “Finstacore,” the witch’s hour vibes of “Magic.” It’s a looseness that only works with a band that is so tight musically, and in addition to the songs having an undeniable spark every member of Equipment is playing off their heads here, loading Miracle with a range of countermelodies and riffs while never overcrowding the songs.

Opener “Monkey Ball Gatekeeper (Cinnamon)” leads off with an appropriately sugary and bouncy melody over acoustic guitar that is slowly joined by layers of electric instruments, as the extra guitars are added so subtly you may miss a few of the riffs thrown amidst everything else going on. This combination of crowded and sugary also makes for a musical covering for some of the drearier lyrics like “it’s awkward / I’m sorry / self-preservation’s ugly / I’m evil / I’m sickly / just check my venmo history.” Kicking off with a roadrunner riff, “Talk To Strangers” uses its explosive energy as a vehicle for lines like “I’m sure it’s normal that I die in every one of my dreams.” The track takes a turn at the halfway point, breaking down to mainly one guitar and the lyrics “and I’m still right where you left me / just the right amount of dumb / to be misguidedly happy / despite the fact that I’ve been scum,” before blasting off into of the record’s more joyful runs, with some “whoa-ohs” joining in on the last pass through the refrain.

It’s followed by “Finstacore,” a song that feels like both an earnest indie rocker and a snotty pop punk rager. Echoing the combination of acoustic and electric guitars from the EP opener, “Finstacore” is definitely one for the guitar-heads with too many sparkling and winding riffs to count. Yet, like on the rest of the EP, Equipment don’t stumble over the riffs or let them get in the way of the songs that would still sound great with all the layers stripped away. The infectiously exuberant “My Birthdays Lately” is a classic case of bright, sunny music melding with dark, gloomy lyrics, as lines like “​​I have all the photos / and I’ve racked up all the debt / to convince your average bear / I’ve lived a lifetime of regret” and “all my friends settled down or got famous / for better or worse I feel weightless / taking acid before the casino / there’s no consequences in limbo” are wrapped up in the record’s lightest melodies, with the band even throwing in some whistles alongside one of the riffs.

Miracle ends on a starkly quiet note, with just one acoustic, vocals, and occasional haunting touches from an electric guitar. After the contradictory feel of the music and lyrics on the rest of the record, “Magic” sticks out for its directness, with Zander singing, “I bare my soul as is / all its faults and ugly patterns / you cut through the talks we share / break us down to all that matters / earth is hurt beyond repair / I don’t think anyone’s happy / I’ve spent ages in despair / maybe I deserve some magic” over a delicately picked acoustic recorded in a way so you can hear each finger scrape at each chord change. The musical loneliness is contradicted as well, though, and the record ends on its most hopeful note—even as it sounds its most somber—with the lines “you walk into my life / it finally feels like living / it’s a miracle to breathe / next to you under my ceiling.”

Disappointing / Average / Good / Great / Phenomenal

Miracle is available on cassette and CD (which also contain the previous three Equipment EPs) through Klepto Phase Records.

Aaron Eisenreich | @slobboyreject

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