Thee MVPs – Receiver

A deeper look at the grooves pressed into the Receiver EP by Thee MVPs.

 There aren’t many things in this day and age of digital recording, mastering and production which feel like “going home,” but the tinny production, screeching guitars and speedy, cymbal-soaked drumming which dominates Thee MVPs’ Receiver EP comes pretty close. For about twenty minutes total (three cuts on the EP’s A-side and two on the B-), this Leeds-spawned group manages to recapture the fire which started the original punk inferno, without actually paying any tribute to it at all – the band simply recognizes the same anger, frustration and desperation within themselves and seek to expel it or exorcise it – they just do whatever they can to get it out is fine, they just want to – need to – get it out, and that works really well – at least some of the time.

 A great sense of urgency dominates about half of Receiver‘s runtime and it appears literally from note one of “Funeral,” which opens the EP’s A-side. There, right off the bat, Alex Ives’ guitar, Josefine Jonsson’s bass and George Rothman’s drums blaze out like an amphetamine rush which is typified by singer/guitaristCharlie Wyatt’s “poised to explode” vocals. The combined effect is something of a throwback; the song returns to that fantastic moment when no one knew the rules for making rock n’ roll so certainly had no hope of playing by them, and so they just let what’s in them blurt – if only to get it out of themselves. It works, of course; for three minutes and nineteen seconds, Thee MVPs are a perfect cathartic engine and, when the song DOES end, it finally feels safe for listeners to exhale.

 Just to prove that they can make that beautiful noise again, the band seems to skippity-slap their way into the opening of “Causality” – the second cut on the side. Again the energy stays high as the band refuses to conform to a simple or straightforward rhythm, but does incorporate some sardonic, early Stones rhythm just to poke fun at listeners before falling forward into something closer to Brian Jonestown Massacre to finish out the cut.

 After that, the band takes one last crack at nihilism with the screechy “Fossor” to close the side. There, the band doesn’t cut themselves (or listeners) any slack and nearly seem to trip over themselves as guitars tumble and melt down with the drums for two minutes and forty-two seconds. Above anywhere else on the Receiver EP, it’s easiest to be overcome by “Fossor,” but  it baits listeners just the right way so they’ll want to see where the band is headed at the end of the side. No one claims exhaustion after just three songs here.

 …Except there’s no doubt that Thee MVPs’ step is a little more laden as “Slimelord” opens the B-side of the EP. There, the band doesn’t quite abandon punk pacing OR adopt something closer to classic Sabbath rhythms but, rather, find a midpoint between the two. Guitars grind pretty hard here, and stop and go for dramatic effect while Wyatt keeps a monotone which is a little more manageable for pitch than Ozzy’s ever has been – and the band tries its collective foot at a classic stomp which half-works – however, most everyone will be pretty relieved when the song ends at the four and a half-minute mark, because that’s still about a minute and a half longer than the song needs to be. Undaunted, the band keeps trying to stretch song lengths a little further as “US Airways” bleeds out to close the proceedings. By accident more than by design, Thee MVPs ultimately prove that they are a “short song” kind of band, here; where the tempo keeps listeners’ minds from wandering too far, the preponderance of generally useless guitar solos and forgettable lyrics will have many listeners happy to see “US Airways” go – when it takes off at the six-and-a-half-minute mark..

 “So, taking the EP as a whole, is Receiver a success or a failure?” Such questions are not easily answered, reader. True, when their hair is on fire or they’re trying to break landspeed records, Thee MVPs wow listeners with their power, but the band is equally capable of boring the pants off of anyone when they try to showcase their passion and slow down a little. The Receiver EP showcases both sides of that difference in nearly equal sums, so the easiest way to quantify this release is to call it a wash. This EP isn’t great and isn’t horrible, it’s a bit of each. Here’s hoping that the band realizes where their strengths are, and focuses more on them, for future releases

Bill Adams is Editor-in-Chief of Ground Control Mag.