The Creases

The word ‘tremolo’ describes a wavering in a musical tone, a rapid modulation of volume between low and high. It creates a feeling of freefall, of weightlessness; it’s thrilling and terrifying at the same time. It makes sense that The Creases decided to name their long awaited debut record Tremolow; in the four years that they’ve been a band they’ve seen enough rapid highs to know a thing or two about the feeling.

A little recap for those who haven’t kept track of The Creases since their low-key beginnings: In 2013, two friends – Joe Agius and Jarrod Mahon – recorded a couple of songs in a Brisbane share house. The songs were thrown on the internet, and The Creases came to the attention of Rough Trade Records – you know, the label that released the debuts of The Smiths and The Libertines, among others – and the rest, while not quite history, is pretty damn legendary.

With the addition of Aimon Clark and Gabe Webster, The Creases made the jump from pretty good to really fucking great. Their career path from there reads like a lesser band’s list of aspirations: after releasing a killer debut EP, they played slots at Laneway Festival and Splendour in the Grass, received triple j airplay, and sold out a couple of blisteringly hot single tours, all in around two years.

This band kinda went from zero to a hundred very quickly in a lot of ways when we started,” says Agius, the band’s vocalist, guitarist and chief songwriter. “I think most other groups would have broken up several times over dealing with the amount of stress and drama that this band has endured, but I think we work and play best together when there is that sense that it could easily just fall apart at any moment.”

If The Creases are about to fall apart, they’re doing very well to hide it. Tremolow showcases the quartet at their very strongest. The group’s interplay is at its alchemical best on the record: Mahon and Webster make for a fiendishly tight rhythm section, and Agius’ keen sense for melody is just as incisive as it was at the band’s inception, now aided by his maturing lyricism.

Recorded in Melbourne over the course of a month, the Tremolow sessions found The Creases tapping into the city’s considerable musical resources. Recorded and produced by Malcolm Besley (Northeast Party House, City Calm Down), the album also features backing vocals by Ali Barter on ‘Were Young’, and brass & strings from members of Saskwatch, Dorsal Fins and Hollow Everdaze. Most importantly, these sessions let the four members of The Creases spend quality time together like they rarely had before.

“We’re in Melbourne a lot but never for extended periods of time,” says Agius. “It’s important for us when we’re recording to be away from distractions and everybody we know, so shacking up together in an AirBnB for a month there definitely had some kind of influence. It was probably the closest time and most fun we’ve had together.”

While Tremolow is wider reaching than any specific genre category, classic Britpop is the record’s driving force. “Everything we’ve ever liked and wanted to do as a band has been on the other side of the world,” says Agius, “so our inspiration for this album was just to make a record that gave us the ability to hopefully do some of those things.”

Agius says that “any song on Tremolow could be a single or a standout,” and he’s not wrong. There are joys to be found in the album as a cohesive work, as well as track-to-track – the heart-racing ‘Asshole’ adds an anthemic chorus to New Order-style guitar and synthwork, while ‘Were Young’s poignant, aching plea to a departed lover is accented by a bombastic horn section. ‘In My Car’, an album highlight, pays musical homage to eighties icon Gary Numan, the track’s dense guitarwork anchored by a central synth tone. Each song draws on the band’s deep love of the eighties and nineties; at various points throughout Tremolow you’ll hear the influence of icons like PULP and Primal Scream channelled into the music.

Lead single ‘Is It Love’ showcases a darker side of Agius’ award-winning songwriting. Underscored by a rhythmic pummel unlike any other song in The Creases’ arsenal, it finds the band asking that classic question: “Is it love that makes me feel this way?” Already-released favourites ‘Everybody Knows’, ‘Point’ and ‘Impact’ are here too, but rest assured – their pleasures are still as fresh as they were upon their initial releases.

The Creases have had enough material to release an album for a while now, but they were savvy to wait until now. They’re still the same precocious Brisbane kids who you know and love – now they’re just smarter people, better musicians, and more confident as a band than ever. The free-fall of their initial hype is over; Tremolow proves that they’ve stuck the landing.