Best new music 2017 – INHEAVEN: redefining alt-rock for their generation
Written for The Telegraph [25/8/17]
Who are they?
A four-piece from south London who pedal Nineties grunge and punk but spit it out for a 21st century audience. The band – James Taylor (vocals, guitar), Chloe Little (bass, vocals), Jake Lucas (guitar) and Joe Lazarus (drums) – had a lucky break in 2015 when their demos were discovered by Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas at Cult Records, who released their first single, Regeneration, in America later that year. Heavy airplay on BBC Radio 1, a co-headline tour and a slot at Glastonbury Festival have followed since.
How did they get here?
Taylor and Little bonded over their love of similar music during a chance meeting at North London venue The Lexington in 2012. It was only when the pair started living together in Forest Hill, on the other side of the Thames, that they began writing music. Building a cryptic website in which to house their creations, the band (then known as Blossom) emailed music publications around the world.
The DIY ethic paid off, with the group gaining early support from music websites. When Casablancas heard them, he was keen to put out their debut single. "From there on it just kind of spiralled and we didn't really have to force it. It kind just fell into place," Taylor says. "That period for me was one of the most exciting times we've ever experienced and we haven't ever really stopped since then."
What do they sound like?
INHEAVEN's music ranges from the raucous to the dreamy, inspired by the grunge and shoegaze of their formative years. "I'm bored of my generation", a lyric from their song Regeneration, harks to Nirvana's breakthrough hit Smells Like Teen Spirit and front man Kurt Cobain's disgust with his own generation's apathy (as alluded in the lyric: "Here we are now, entertain us... A mosquito"). On Tangerine it's a more ethereal affair with echoing post-punk beats and kaleidoscopic guitars.
Who are there influences?
The Smashing Pumpkins are INHEAVEN's biggest influence. Pixies, Sonic Youth, The Clash and The Strokes follow closely, with Taylor in particular being a fan of Low. He adds that it's the "pop songwriting underbelly behind the brash guitars and high energy" of those acts' music that makes INHEAVEN tick – something they strive to blend together.
What do they say about their own music?
"It's fuzzy, euphoric punk."