You can hardly ever go wrong with an EP. At worst, they’re short, leaving less of a feeling of regret for wasting your time listening to them. At best, they’re tempting teasers that leave you craving more. Either way, you can hardly find fault in them, as they take only as much time from you as you want them to. If your attention span is short, one listen will do. But should you desire a second, third or tenth listen, you have more time to do so. Emergency Response, the debut six-song release by Despistado falls into the latter category. At around 20 minutes long, it doesn’t carry as much weight as a full-length album, but then again, you can always listen to it twice.
Putting Saskatchewan on the map for blistering punk rock, Despistado plays a snarly but smart brand of hardcore that falls somewhere between At the Drive-In and Wire. Though the vocals rarely stray from shouting, they never approach the operatics of Cedric Bixler-Zavala. And though the guitars are raw and aggressive, the band tends to ease off on the distortion pedals, employing a less-is-more mentality to their sound. Not that they’re minimalists or anything, but they know better than to overdo it.
Opener “Stirsticks Prediction” begins with a full-frontal dual vocal assault that brings to mind Pretty Girls Make Graves’ “Speakers Push the Air.” “Can I Have an Order of Girl with a Side of Confused?” has one of the worst song titles in the history of rock and roll, but shouldn’t be faulted for it, as it’s thoroughly rocking. “Bubbles” is the only track to blow over the four-minute mark, and one of the most At the Drive-In sounding tracks on the collection. Closer “Lipstick” is the true standout, though, as its cerebral post-punk sound uses more subtlety than the more hardcore-leaning tracks on the record.
Emergency Response is just an EP, and, unfortunately, ends a bit too soon. But until Despistado is ready to put out a full-length, we’ll just have to make do with listening to this one over and over again.
At the Drive-In – Vaya
Pretty Girls Make Graves – Good Health
Wire – Pink Flag
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.