In the era of DIY, the music industry has seen a lot of success from self-made acts. When you can run your own record label and put out a very highly praised debut, the bar is set pretty high for anything that follows. The UK’s own Asylums have done just that. They released their debut in 2016 with rave reviews and two years later they are following up with Alien Human Emotions (Cool Thing). This sophomore drop from the Southend natives uplifts the alt./art rock genre in a direction that intrigues a younger audience from the second it’s turned on.
‘Day Release To The Moon’ introduces the listener to the steady, downbeat vocals by Luke Branch, accompanied by Jazz Miell’s guitar riffs that carry a similar tone throughout the album, but never get tedious. ‘When We Wake Up’ is full of energetic riffs and bright fills, ‘Bottle Bank’ speaks loudly to the previous efforts found on their debut.
These tracks are created as thrashing melodic anthems about failed relationships and the bleak political world that we are currently living in. The self-titled track is compounded by different rhythms and hooks and carries the message well. The spunk in the rhythmic percussion symbolizes a new wave of punk alternative as in ‘Pause’ and the very poetically constructed ‘Millennials’. ‘Graveyard Tourism’ is heavy with depth, as heard in the gritty bass lines and ‘Napal Bubblegum’ is as a fun punk track—full of energy that takes indie punk-pop to territories reminiscent of Sonic Youth and Weezer.
‘Critical Mass’ and ‘Sexual Automation’ come in calmly, and the low-spirited and charming tracks show the potential Asylums has, as they deliver an infectious sound. The first of these features a guitar riff that will make you want to mosh but it’s Branch’s vocals that will entice you: listeners will find that Alien Human Emotion is lyrically strong and closer ‘The Company You Keep’ epitomizes this lyrical mastery. Accompanied by a haunting guitar riff—the album ends on a high note.
Hooks reel you in and the precise mechanism that Asylums have created in the twelve track album doesn’t shy away from experimenting in a way that only makes it that much intriguing. If Asylums set the bar high with the debut, Alien Human Emotions is the sophomore release that goes beyond their art-pop, agitpop expectations to deliver the soundtrack to the times we are living.