What do you get when the members of Mumford & Sons are swapped out for three equally rocking women? You get something like the Australian folk rock trio known as Little May, who have a self titled debut EP, out yesterday via Capitol Records, that packs in some major feels. Rife with angelic harmonies from vocalists Liz Drummond, Hannah Field, and Annie Hamilton, this EP soars across the spectrum of human emotion in just a matter of five tracks, and it does so in that foot-stomping, kick-drum-pounding, Mumford way.
“Dust” is the song that opens this little Pandora’s box, luring you in with sweet emotive singing over melodically plucked acoustic guitar. It possesses the intimate feel of being in the recording studio, as if you are there to witness the inception of this beautiful song, so familiar that it quickly starts to feel like part of your own life story. The song is innocent enough until the lyric “and I’m not ready to ignite this now” — the sort of statement someone might make when the inevitable is about to occur, breathlessly uttered almost like a reflex. And just when you think this is going to be one of those sleepy, pensive tunes, the song sonically ignites. This is why the trio have drawn comparisons to Fleetwood Mac or Haim; the plucking turns to fast strumming, the bass starts rumbling in your chest and the whole song becomes larger than life itself.
“Hide” takes a different emotional approach. We go from the loss and longing of “Dust” to somewhat more tumultuous passive aggression in this track. The sound is less dramatic as it features more technical guitar work throughout, but the lyrical impact is emphasized. This track makes it apparent that this isn’t a girl group that sings only about the pangs and hurt of lost love; those waters get muddy when there’s the other woman involved, and this is what that song is about. When the song ends with the chant-like line “Can you see me count to three / No, I won’t play your hide and seek” there’s no self-pity, and you can begin to envision the faint outline of revenge on the horizon.
The next three minutes of the EP take you on the “Midnight Hour” train. The rustic guitar strumming hums underneath the solo whine of the lead guitar, which somehow (remarkably) is more emotive than the singing itself. This sleepy crooner steadily builds itself into a perfectly up-tempo moody jam. “Bones,” on the other hand, starts with a wallop and begins refreshingly fast, but it doesn’t keep that pace long before dipping back into a mellow verse. While the vocal harmony is ever-present on this track, there is some striking interplay between guitars. There is the rich, heavy chord strike, which leaves a heavy tone hovering above the verses, but also some distant reverberating licks clamoring to the surface and fizzling out quickly before the chorus. The light tread of the fuzz bass makes this song more atmospheric than some of the others, but the piano in the first chorus and throughout the rest of the song retains some charm in the ballad.
The EP ends on “Boardwalks,” an indie-folk track in all of the truest respects. It features the most undeniably catchy guitar picking heard since Of Monsters and Men or The Civil Wars’ slower material, paired with some sleepy, but impactful lyrics that could double as Little May’s mission statement: “We are not afraid of who we are but of what we have become.” By the end of the song, the Aussies prove again that all of their songs possess an intense transformative property, one that maintains the ability to transcend the power of their instruments.
The girls will be in New York for CMJ, followed by a show in Los Angeles. Stream the EP and check out the dates below!
10.21.14 – Rockwood Music Hall – New York, NY
10.22.14 – Rough Trade – Brooklyn, NY
10.24.14 – Mercury Lounge – New York, NY
10.27.14 – Hotel Cafe – Los Angeles, CA