Resident music man Yaseen El Azzouni explores the sophomore EP of Cairo's resident indie rockers – a mellow indie-rock journey.
Indie-rock is a difficult genre to tackle efficiently without straying into the realms of instrumental stagnation; there are just too many imitators treading old ground with the same sound. Cairo’s five-piece indie-rock outfit, Living Too Late - comprised of Hashem El Saifi and Nader Ahmed on guitars, Youssef Abouzeid of PanStarrs on bass, Ziad Abdel-Alal on drums, and Omar Foda on vocals and guitar - has infiltrated indie-rock, not unlike the album’s namesake infiltrates the nests of other birds, and added their own unique spin to the genre in this follow-up to their melancholic self-titled debut EP.Songs From A Cuckoo’s Nest is a step up from their debut project in terms of complexity, and all the band members themselves display a wider range of instrumental ability that exceeds that of their previous work. Take Youssef Abouzeid, for example, who has taken on a greater role in the mix, and is now more prominently heard in sonic areas where the bass guitar was previously only reserved as a textural element. This increased presence is at its best on the third track on the EP, In Control, which grooves along to a steady bass riff and soft, danceable drum beats. Overseer of the whole EP, Nader Ahmed, shows his production versatility on Pink Cloud - which sounds similar to slow-tempo Mac Demarco - with techno-inclined producer bringing a uniquely electronic spin to the record through the introduction of a simple, lo-fi lead synthesizer melody in one of the most fun and unexpected moments on the EP.
Similar to their debut, Songs From A Cuckoo’s Nest is extremely instrumentally consistent, with shimmering guitars, a simple drum kit, and Omar Foda’s soulful vocals echoing throughout the mix. Foda’s vocal range – which I can best describe as a blend of the monotone wordplay of Lou Reed (from The Velvet Underground) and the croaked twang of Joe Newman (of Alt-J) – is almost exclusively soaked in reverb, giving Sounds From The Cuckoo’s Nest a sprawling, spacious feel. However, where this project strays from its predecessor is its atmospheric vibe; Living Too Late EP was a light and euphoric dream, and Songs From A Cuckoo’s Nest is an introverted and melancholic 22-minute journey, and the less plucked and acoustic sounding guitars give the EP a subtle and welcome energy boost over its duration.
Songs From A Cuckoo’s Nest is, by its very nature, a slow burning experience; there’s no instantly gratifying banger or lead single to represent the EP as a whole, which isn’t really a problem, as Living Too Late dictate their own pace, taking their time as they draw you through both lively and mellow vibes alike. Overall, Songs From A Cuckoo’s Nest is a thoroughly enjoyable auditory experience if listened to while in the right mood; I recommend slouched back in your favourite couch with some good headphones on for this one.