Cool British “People”

By Issa Nasatir

British “people.” A phrase that holds a lot of contention in the American cultural sphere. Whether you can come to terms with those blokes and their teef or not, you have to admit they do make some pretty damn good music. Here are some British “people” I enjoy listening to who have recently found a better hobby than yelling about soccer or Trainspotting.


My first group of British “people” are actually not people, but animals. Tapir! is a group coming out of The Windmill scene in Brixton that produced the likes of Black Country, New Road. They gained traction by opening for the band a few times around the U.K. and continue to increase in popularity, currently finding themselves at #15 on RYM’s top albums of 2024. Since finding the whimsical ribbons of guitar and piano on the intro track “Act 1: The Pilgrim” a few months ago, I excitedly followed the six-piece band up until the release of their debut album, The Pilgrim, Their God, and the King of My Decrepit Mountain in late January.

TPTGKMDM is a conceptual, cryptic album that instrumentally and lyrically explores the intersections of old and new. The three-part act of overcast, folk-inspired songs centers around acoustic guitar melodies, soft drum machine pads, subtle distorted bass, and the occasional horn is thoughtfully stuck into the album’s nooks and crannies. These all back the singing and songwriting of Isaac Gray, who sounds somewhat like a squeaky, left-field Thom Yorke. The world he’s built lands itself somewhere between a child’s first self-written fairy tale and a depressed bard who’s begun dabbling in abstract poetry. The latter is particularly present in “Eidolon.” “Eidolon,” the word itself defined as an idealized person or thing, is a refreshing love song detailing the feeling of idolizing the idea of someone you love until it swells to the size where it might make your head explode. Gray is solely accompanied by an acoustic guitar and a single backup singer, creating an intimate atmosphere that draws you in and makes you feel like you’re eavesdropping on something you weren’t meant to hear. TPTGKMDM is definitely an early album of the year contender for me, and it has helped me come to terms with such backward people at least a little bit more than I used to.

 Some songs: Act 1 (The Pilgrim), Eidolon, My God


While our last British “people” were sad British “people,” these four are angry British “people.” Maruja’s aesthetic is the polar opposite of Tapir!’s. There is no color here, no fun little red people with fun little trunks climbing fun little mountains. No, here, on the cover of Maruja’s debut EP Knocknarea, there is no color, just two men who look like they just stepped out of Peaky Blinders standing on telephone poles fifty-something feet in the air. 

Maruja’s mix of spoken word and post-punk projects this image perfectly. They fastidiously build tension with stuttering saxophone and slowly rising vocals and guitar lines that violently explode with dense, jaw-shattering bass and guitar, and the screaming of lead singer Harry Wilkinson. Wilkinson alternates between distant spoken word and in-your-face howling, bringing to mind a more aggressive Slint with an unfortunate accent. In the song “Thunder,” he recites poetics as if he were the omniscient narrator of an epic with electric imagery like “Flashes of lightning split the air like bullets/Defiant they stand/A storm raging down/The ground shakes in God’s hands” which erupts into yells of “The sky is alive with thunder.” Unlike the potent rawness of Slint, however, Maruja emits a controlled power in their music; everything has been meticulously placed right where it should be, no more, no less, like a harsh ecosystem perfectly balanced to survive the most brutal conditions and punish any unsuited visitors. 

Maruja released their first single since October “Invisible Man” a month ago to much acclaim, and they’ve hinted that more music should be on the way. Give little British “people” big angry instruments and you get good music: an effective formula that deserves to be used more often. 

Some songs: Thunder, One Hand Behind the Devil, Blind Spot 


Our last British “person” is Vegyn, an electronic producer who has carved out a unique space for himself between variations of electronic and rap. Vegyn has more or less remained in the underground, most noted in the mainstream for his production credits on projects from artists such as Frank Ocean, Travis Scott, and JPEGMAFIA. However, most of his projects skew toward the electronic scene. With slow-tempo songs centered around syrupy synths and 808s supported by crisp percussion, you can most accurately compare him to the musical explorations of Four Tet. 

He released one of my favorite albums of last year, The Head Hurts but the Heart Knows the Truth, as the group Headache, a collaboration between him and a mysterious figure named Francis Hornby Clark. Vegyn lays down the instrumentals; cradling layers of synths that feel like a beach at night are tied in with tight drum beats that keep you from getting pulled away by the hypnotizing current. The vocals are spoken word as if we’re listening to Clark’s diary, except it’s all AI narrated. A quick Google search of Clark’s name renders nothing, so many fans have resolved to attribute the lyrics to Vegyn as well. The AI sounds like a British man who’s in his late 30s and voluntarily bald, but this idea might just come from the line “One morning you wake up and you want to shave your head/because the insects living up there have/started to throw parties they aren’t inviting you to.” His writing alternates between beautiful imagery, witty one-liners, and cringy romantics fueled by subtle self-loathing, with lines like “This is the sound of orange juice and milk,” and “They used to chase me with hammers down the street/Boohoo right?”  

Most recently, Vegyn began a long rollout in September of last year for his upcoming album, The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions, set to release in early April. He has released five singles so far, two instrumental and three with guest vocals from artists such as John Glacier. The songs resemble the mood and sound of the Headache LP, but Vegyn brings new rhythms and effects that keep his sound fresh each time. 

Some songs: The Path Less Traveled, Nauseous / Devilish, The Beginning of the End

And Others!

Check out this playlist of songs from the artists I’ve mentioned that I made for you geezers, alongside some other British “people” I think are pretty cool too. Or as cool as British people can be anyway. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: