The QT

Saturday 15 June 2024

EP review: The Samphires

Steve Jackson hears a confident comeback from a band built on teenage anxiety
The Samphires have released a new EP

When The Samphires formed seven years ago they were just finishing their GCSEs.

I saw them play a couple of years later in a Newcastle pub, then again at a Sunday afternoon event. However, it was only when I discovered two tracks uploaded to Spotify that their music stuck with me.

And it really stuck.

Recorded in 2019, Coppers and Papercuts have been among my most-played tracks ever since.

A demo of Coppers by The Samphires

Bassist and vocalist Rosa Thomas describes it as a time of uncertainty and change. Collectively and individually they were beginning to think about their futures. Each day a step closer to leaving home and maybe splitting the band.

Ephemera is The Samphires five years on and finally those tracks have been added to. Potential, another long-time Samphires favourite, sits here alongside new tunes – Never Gonna be Your Baby, Face to Face and Pretty For You.

Plus there are new versions of those old favourites. Both still playlist-worthy – the production this time a little harder and rawer. It’s a sound that benefits the grungier Papercuts more than the quieter Coppers.

And on those tracks at least, the anxiety remains.

Coppers starts: “I’ve only got a tenner so I’ll need to get some change and while we’re on the subject things just can’t stay the same,” and continues “I need to go forwards but I’m so afraid.”

Papercuts asks: “How can I offer you a body I dream of escaping?”

Never Gonna Be Your Baby from the new EP from The Samphires

But, the real story of this EP is what happened between the original recordings and now.

Rosa, originally from Newcastle, and guitarist and singer Elsie Shields, of Whitley Bay are now in final years of university in Edinburgh. Original drummer Gemma Watson left the band to study in Manchester with Michael Dunwell of Hexham replacing her.

Mercifully, new single Never Gonna Be Your Baby is presumably where the band’s confidence is now and it’s a stormer.

It could be the sound of the summer or sliced up and played in a loop on TikTok from your little sister’s phone. Played recently on the BBC Music Introducing platform, sweariness aside, I can’t imagine why it’s not on heavy rotation everywhere. It’s that good.

At just 2.12 long there’s not a second wasted and the line “I know you want me, it’s f**king obvious” couldn’t sound better sung in any other accent on earth.

And that’s pretty much at the heart of the joy this EP brings. Where there were two great songs, there are now five – and a couple of little extras besides. Each one full of great riffs, artfully crafted hooks, emotive vocals and smart lyrics.

Because, what sets them apart now, is what set them apart then – the sheer quality of the songs.

Whether this marks the end of The Samphires’ journey, or it’s just the start of the next leg, is up to them. Collectively and individually, whatever they have planned, their songs are here to stay.

Ephemera is out now on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube


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