[sic] Magazine

Big Deal – Say Yes

There are relationships and then there are relationships, and Big Deal’s striking new LP, Say Yes, continues to chart the remarkable ups and downs of that of its principal duo Kacey Underwood and Alice Costelloe. “The first [album, 2011’s Lights Out] was about not being together, the second [2013’s romantic June Gloom] about being together, the third is about breaking up and trying to make sense of it all” explains Costelloe. Through longing, bare-bones indie-pop and on to dewy-eyed pop-rock the pair have certainly had their off-and-ons and, considering the above statement, you might expect Say Yes to be an awkward listen, stripped of passion even, but surprisingly it’s often quite the opposite. Theirs, you see, is an “ongoing relationship”, a rather mature attitude to have when you think about it, especially from Costelloe who is still only 22 remember.

Bored, too, of making music their grannies approved of (no joke), an unexpected tour with Depeche Mode came just at the right time. “Something clicked for us during that time,” they explain. “Touring with them made us realise we had been hiding when we should be stepping in to the light.” This realisation is made all the more commendable when you further consider the backdrop against which Say Yes was written. Having split with each other, then their label Mute, seen band members depart and all of this new album’s demos irreplaceably stolen, Underwood and Costelloe took it all on the chin, as if in fact it were no big deal, self-funding its recording before finally teaming up with FatCat for its release. “We didn’t want to give up, or revel in our misery. We decided instead to try and turn it into something magic.”

The result is an album with festival headline spots in mind, the beefy opening trio of tracks making a play at the very least for big venue support slots alongside the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian or The Kills. The title track, for example, is full of humid refrains and sunset guitars, surging guitars dealt with in terms of terms of triumph not tristesse. Affirmative if not life affirming, on pummelling pop anthem “Avalanche” it turns out Costelloe has quite the pair of lungs on her as well. Yet the cutesy girl next door is not entirely banished. Although on her shouty chorus she undeniably reaches for the stars, so too does she creep in for an intimate bridge on “Hold Your Fire” when the temptation might have been to go stadium sized throughout.

Despite everything Big Deal are reputedly now eventually the band they always wanted to be and they’re too wise to pump everything into the hope of heavy daytime rotation. Say Yes would be too much to stomach if it were all like these opening steps. Costelloe in particular still knows the value of restraint, her shyer turns such as on “Veronica”, while still a world away from Lights Out, become the more likeable album takeaways when the dust has settled. That track still, too, has time to shoehorn in a big finale – its title repeated with such enthusiasm over downright marauding bass and drums that it morphs into something that sounds like “run for cover” – which allows “Kitty Pride” to bask as the collection’s most stripped-back statement. Even then though, barely-there acoustics, vocal and the intimate hum of everything being committed to tape are just lulls between great walls of brash pop-rock.

Given most of the vocals on Say Yes, Costelloe fittingly shares them on its most surprising and best cut of all. Straight out of the traps, “V.I.T.R.I.O.L.” is bang in New Wave party mode, flashing like Yeah Yeah Yeahs with a huge lighting rig behing them, 80s snares and sirens shooting off like fireworks in all directions. It’s quite astonishing if for no other reason than this is the band that also wrote a track like “Talk”. Forget all the history and indeed histrionics guys, this right here is proof of a relationship worth celebrating.

Best track: “V.I.T.R.I.O.L.”

~Say Yes is released June 10th 2016 via FatCat.~