And What Will Be Left Of Them? – The Hi-Fi Low Life (Pop Art London)
Having met AWWBLOT? several years ago, it’s pertinent to mention that one of them doesn’t drink any more (because it no longer has any effect) and another has caused irreparable damage to his liver having been a little too exuberant in his consumption. Apparently, he might die if he has another drink. Consequently, we’re expecting at least a bracing affair from their debut LP, and to some extent it’s delivered. Troubled in gestation, The Hi-Fi Low Life was a colossal two years in the making – with one version completely scrapped in the process. Sadly, it sounds like it in some ways.
At times irrepressible and urgent, even vital, at others tiring and hackneyed, it’s a confusing affair that emerges at the end bloodied, but just-about standing. Many titles are conceived clearly with a shouting refrain in mind (and there’s little wrong with that), and don’t progress much more than doing emphatically that simple raison d’etre, but there’s a hanging sense that these simpler songs could be something more. It’s unfortunate that Fight Like Apes’ debut album arrived in January too, because their brand of “girls shout about cool stuff” schtick runs throughout this cousin of a record.
Standout track and previous single Hi-Fi Low Life is steady, fizzing and now somewhat wider of screen than its single version from a few years back, and Four Years To Be An Artist rings entirely true with its art-school berating “woo-woo”s. For all these righteous examples, there are duds to equal them. Dance, Damn You, Dance rattles with fake menace rather than shrilly shrieking like the rest of the record, and the texturing swells of droning guitar are pleasantly inventive for the genre, but still misplaced and confusing. Unity in purpose seems somewhat hard to come by outside of the unison vocals, and the reggae breakdown section on Orlick Orlick takes us worryingly close to a King Prawn support slot in 2001. In Portsmouth.
It’s a shame that this record wasn’t released sooner, because it lacks immediacy, excitement and, save for the odd tweak, many of the songs don’t appear to have grown much over the past couple of years. While there are moments of inspired energy and worthy comment, a little too much time is spent trying to create iconoclastic worlds. Renewed focus on the tunes, the spirit and the abandon will see them right.
The Hi-Fi Low Life is out on March 16th, via Pop Art London recordings. Have a look here for some pop.