When trying to complete the alphabet in a record collection, the letters “Q”, “X” and “Z” are a challenge and often look rather bare at best. So, thank you to Qlowski for bolstering space that, for me, only previously played host to Qui and Quintron. Sorry Queen and Q And Not You fans! Their new album “Quale Futuro?”, released on Maple Death Recordings and Feel It Records, is the London (via Italy) band’s debut.
What better way to introduce it, then, than with an opening track with “Pt.2” in the title?
‘Ikea Youth Pt. 2’ is underpinned by a skipping electronic pulse, while minimal warped sounds whizz through. The vocals, almost robotic. Eventually it expands into a driving Krautrock-y instrumental with wonky detuned keys, before fading into static noise. The post-punk synth pop of ‘Folk Song’ provides the first real evidence Michele Tellarini’s almost Kevin Rowland-esque yelps and Cecilia Corapi’s softer, understated vocals. It’s superbly twitchy, with hints of Omni and Ought, but with added 80s synths.
The synths carry through into the absolutely superb ‘A Woman’ which has a fabulous melodic bassline courtesy of Danny Smartt and playful vocal melodies. It’s kind of like the aforementioned Omni in some kind of warped retro futurist collaboration with Parsnip, owing to Corapi’s delightfully sweet vocal. Christian Billard’s drums are super tight yet perfectly pitched in their expression.
‘Lentil Soup’ has a harder edge. Tellarini takes the lead again in a tense and fidgety track that fits the sensibilities of producer Lindsay A. Corstophine (Sauna Youth).
Those icy 80s synth sounds don’t let up.
‘To Be True’, for the first half, is pure 80s synth pop but gradually builds layers of atmospheric feedback and becomes increasingly frantic. Qlowski play with discords on the twitchy ‘All Good’, which sounds kind of like a gothic Ought. Tellarini really sits somewhere between Kevin Rowland and Bryan Ferry.
The brooding, largely instrumental ‘Interlude’ provides the required minimal breather, before ‘Lotta Continua’ locks in with its edgy post-punk. This sees Corapi and Tellarini duet in the chorus and works to really charming effect adding an Avi Buffalo playfulness. ‘Larry’s Hair Everywhere’ is more mid-paced, and slightly hypnotic in its repetitive keyboard lick and wonky guitar work. That is, until they break the spell with a chugging chorus and a breakdown that descends into intense, atonal chaos.
The percussive guitar opening of ’The Wanderer’ suggests a new approach, and it delivers on this, somewhat.
The drums are itchy and inpatient, the synth washes all the while taming the frantic rhythm section. It’s packed with ideas, the song expands outwards with huge sounding delay and a grandiose chorus like The Cure playing double speed. Qlowski calm the tempo on the closer ‘In a Cab to Work’ which features vocals by Les Miserable of Italia 90. There’s an interesting juxtaposition between the relative calm of the almost balladic instrumental and his punk snarl. Of course, this doesn’t last and we’re treated to a arguably the most phenomenal blast of noise and skronk on the album.
There’s a lot to like about Qlowski. Their proficient post punk, gothic edge and characterful vocals set them apart. ‘Quale Futuro’ is one of the most accomplished debut albums we’ll probably hear this year.
You may enjoy this if you like: Ought, Omni, The Cure