EP Review: Be Well – An ode to War Waves

When I started this music blog from scratch two years ago it was with the simple aim of promoting new bands and to spread the word about music that I like. And it’s brilliant bands like War Waves that make it worthwhile.

So it’s with some sadness that we have to say goodbye to the Ipswich band, who call it a day but sign off in style with their ‘debut EP’ Be Well, which was released today. It follows their two incredible albums All That We Lack and their self-titled debut from 2015 – which we reviewed when they became only our second New Band of the Week way back in September 2016.

War Waves, and their frontman Marc Newby in particular, are probably the most intriguing songwriters I’ve come across and had the pleasure of writing about for this site. Marc has a knack for writing lyrics and songs that you can’t help but relate to and sing along with. I mean, it doesn’t get much bolder than dropping the C-bomb in the second word of your debut album.

That debut remains one of my go-to albums whenever I fire up Spotify. It’s packed with songs that I love, know every word to, love singing along to and get stuck in my head for hours. A particular favourite is the delicious Teeth, which is chocked-full of bizarrely engaging lyrics like “Brother quick I am imagining that I swallowed my head, my shoulders were alone for hours and the guilt ran out of my neck,” then “I’ll tell you how hard it is to get by without a skeleton to make them high, your kneecaps they’re pretty low,” and imagining a life without shins in the line “My knees and ankles got to know each other and you couldn’t separate them.”

While their second album All That We Lack followed it up superbly, with awesome tracks like Jean Season and Horses. Check out our review of it here to find out more.

So while it’s sad to see War Waves come to an end, it is pleasing to see them end on a high with their first, and last, EP.

It opens up with the sumptuous A Lion’s Head, which pretty much sums up War Waves in one track. It features engaging dual vocals throughout, opens up with a looping guitar riff over driving drums that drop into the opening line “There’s something about this house that changes everything, It’s not a role reverse of sorts but it’s crippling, And I’d define success if it’d settle down with me, And I believe in anything except for my beliefs.” Another blast of guitar chords feeds into a second verse that contains the superb lyrics: “Some of us are strong and I guess some of us are weak, Some of us move along while some others melt their speech, Some of us take harm and trust and make them the same thing, Some of us are cunts and some of us are sweet.” Classic War Waves. Check it out in the unusual video below:

That’s followed by Blame, which opens with the line “Whether I’m here or not people still fuck, And they’re falling asleep with another on top” supported by a light guitar lick. While the second verse opens up with the somewhat bleak line “And if I could draw a picture of death I imagine it’d look a little like this, I’m barely alive.” It suddenly bursts into bigger guitars and intense vocals that give way to a big ending.

Then Sleep opens up with a cool little guitar lick under the singalong vocals “Are you dressing for survival or can you even change?, The clothes that I buy don’t fit the same, I’m coming up to 30 and what remains, Are expanding waists and longer days.” It builds into a classic War Waves chorus “I’m pretty fucking sure that I can’t save you, I can make you sing, I can make you breathe, I can make you eat, We could have rebuilt everything again, You just wouldn’t go to sleep.”

On the track, Marc told us: “Without getting too miserable (and I do struggle to describe the songs in a coherent way sometimes), Sleep is about wanting things to get better and coming to terms with the fact they may not. It’s potentially the most miserable song lyrically I’ve written, wrapped up in the poppiest music!”

There’s a rockier feel to the interestingly titled Some Of Us Die, which opens up with big guitar chords and driving drums then drop into a verse of light, slightly sinister sounding vocals. It suddenly picks up pace with the chorus lyrics “But shouldn’t you keep a record of what makes you smile, Write down your encouragements to keep them alive, Shouldn’t you wait for something more than solely to survive, It’s not enough to try, You’re always going to try.” A second chorus leads into a rockier blast of guitars alongside repeats of the vocals “Well I guess some of us die” and “Im not trying to talk you down” then a more intense final chorus. 

And the final track Irregular Arms sees War Waves go out in style. It opens up with rolling guitar chords then fast-paced vocals before dropping into a laid-back section of vocals, then picks up pace again. A guitar solo bridges into more vocals, then it builds up into big intense, powerful vocals that see us through to the end alongside guitar chords and a high-pitched lick. Check it out in the stream below:

War Waves may be no more, but this is a brilliant EP to sign off on. Be Well is out now on Spotify, iTunes and Bandcamp, where I strongly urge you to listen to all of their music, and you can follow War Waves on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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