Self-release, released on 17 Feb 2017

Glasgow-based musician, songwriter, and bassist for The Pooches Eliot Humphreys has been releasing tape-fuzzy emo pop under his cop graveyard moniker for nearly three years, and his message is one dogged by melancholy. “There is nothing for you here but dirt” reads the tagline of his first demo; the phrase may as well underscore the rest of his output too. His latest EP “are you happy you’re here?” feels like an end point and – as its title suggests – an apt position for reflection. Cop graveyard is an evolving project, Humphreys tells The Wee Review via e-mail, and certainly “are you happy you’re here?” sounds like a fitting culmination of all that came before it.

Frequently a solo venture, cop graveyard – aided on this release by Lorelei Price and Saam Owens on guitar and drums respectively, with both also contributing additional vocals – sounds nicely fleshed out on the EP, the loving handiwork of as strong a power pop trio as you’ll hope to find today. After a downcast instrumental intro worthy of any Midwest American emo group, highlight put yr faith in me (don’t) rough-and-tumbles with choppy chords and a rapid fire lead, with Humphreys’ quivering yelp keeping up the pace. “I’ve always been a fickle kinda guy” he sings, and the listener is wholly convinced. Likewise, desperate wimp brings to mind a dream amalgam nobody knew they wanted: a version of Hüsker Dü fronted by Buzzcocks’ Howard Devoto.

The thematic contents of the EP are refined takes on the usual suspects: being unlucky in love and immobilizing self-sabotage. Dog / cyclist, however, actually sounds like Humphreys attempting to write something else – a simple song about a dog and a cyclist outside his window – but a creeping anxiety pulls him back down to a darker place, and his mind drifts: “I don’t love other people like I oughta do / I can’t remember the last time I cried”. Crucially, all-consuming sadness here and on the rest of the EP is not portrayed as the romantic musings of a tragic musician-hero, but as a genuine everyday annoyance that hinders the formation of meaningful relationships. Humphreys’ telling couplet on desperate wimp (“feeling pathetic / ain’t that poetic”) seems utterly sardonic.

The whole of “are you happy you’re here?” permeates with dissatisfaction, right down to its track listing. Many more songs were planned, having been demoed back in 2016 on yr ok, which included, among other lo-fi gems, a three-part sound collage suite containing shades of Constellation post-rock and Harold Budd ambience (a style Humphreys expanded full force for his Tourist Fashion project). In comparison, the four songs on “are you happy you’re here” feel specially curated for gut-wrenching impact – the punchy sound of a punk trio blazing their way through a stellar live set. The saddest part is that it’s over too soon; who knows what a full album in the same vein would’ve sounded like.