by David Anthony (@DBAnthony)
By now, retelling Littler’s origin story feels rote, but at the exact same time, it’s part of what makes the Philadelphia band so enthralling. Formed as part of First Time’s The Charm—an annual event that brings together musicians with little experience but plenty of drive—Littler was launched. And now, four years into their existence, and with plenty of releases to their name, Littler is continuing to push the limits of their sound.
The four-song Bad Hand EP is less cohesive than Of Wandering—Littler’s debut LP from 2016—but that’s all to the band’s benefit. The Philadelphia foursome has always been adept at approaching songs as if they were an open slate. From song-to-song, the band’s influences are never uniform, at times sounding like a ‘90s alt-rock band, and then unleashing a vicious hardcore-meets-post-punk ripper just moments later.
Throughout Bad Hand there are moments that show Littler are students of songwriting and not genre. “Running Hot” comes in like a summer breeze, with windswept guitar riffs coated in delay, and harmonized vocals that invite you to join them in the deep end. It’s a perfect little pop song, feeling like if Brian Wilson was making dreamier pop songs for the modern era. It’s followed by “Lousy,” a song that has a disaffected bounce that recalled LVL UP and some rather seismic riffs in the back half.
But “Out of Your Rib” is the biggest left-turn, not just on Bad Hand, but in Littler’s entire discography. The song builds on a lo-fi, post-punk stomp, with the guitar and bass chasing one another, never being played in unison but lending a forward motion that’s unrelenting. The song builds an uncomfortable ambiance, allowing for primal, guttural screams to become the centerpiece as the instruments swirl around Madeline Meyer unleashing these bursts of pure anger. It’s a song that, when it ends, feels unresolved, but deliberately so. It’s meant to linger in your psyche, bouncing around in its artful, unfettered glory.
Taken on the whole, Bad Hand shows a fearlessness that’s always been present in Littler’s music but finally takes control. In a scant four songs the Philadelphia foursome proves it defies simple classifications, breaking all the rules and sounding damn good doing it.