Brooklyn-bred rockers, X Ambassadors, first emerged in 2010, before releasing their debut album Litost last year. Now (with the all important “X”), the band have re-surfaced and debuted an EP under a new name and label. After signing to British producer Alex Da Kid’s KIDinaKORNER label and Interscope, the band bring us their EP, Love Songs Drug Songs, which is packed full of triumphant, genre-blending tracks.
Last year my personal choice for Song of the Year was the band’s brilliantly gritty “Unconsolable.” So, naturally, the band made the clear choice of opening up the EP with this track. After a bit of re-recording and mastering, the already impressive track has been greatly improved. With a cleaner production, a new introduction, and a seamless breakdown at the two minute mark, “Unconsolable” now has a clearer, crisper overall sound and a dynamic depth that wasn’t there before.
“Love Songs Drugs Songs,” the title track off of the EP, is built upon a foundation of percussive playing and a fat bassline. Singer/songwriter Sam Harris sings a gorgeous melody on this track and makes it all the more appealing. Alex Da Kid’s production is a god send to this band’s sound and is really evident on tracks such as “Down With Me” and “Stranger.”
With the help and oversight of their mentor, the band are able to flex their genre blending abilities on “Down With Me.” What starts off with slow but heavy flowing synths soon takes on a more abrasive rock edge, with catchy melodic hooks and guitar lines that uniformly intertwine with the rest of the track.
Similarly, “Stranger” is another percussive number fronted by Sam Harris’ bombastic vocal talents and hints at the sounds heard on Imagine Dragons‘ debut album. This of course is no bad thing, and also quite apt seeing as Dan Reynolds, the frontman of Imagine Dragons, co-produced this EP. That being said, X Ambassadors are a band who have really defined their own sound throughout this release.
The last two tracks on the EP, “Litost” and “Brother,” are a further example of the band’s rather absolute sound. “Litost,” which featured on their first album, is more of a downtempo groove that dips into folk-rock elements, a string arrangement and acoustic guitars. “Brother” is a huge sounding rock track which features an uplifting chorus driven by an anthemic vocal line and a screaming lead guitar.