After what seems like a long wait since their EP release Hate Music Last Time Delete and some stunning live dates last year, the London quintet HMLTD unleash their weird and wonderful mix of theatrical new wave sparklers on us. Wayne Carey reviews….
For a band once named Happy Meal Ltd until fuckin’ Ronald Mcdonald’s henchmen stomped on them with a large clown shoe, been through the traditional ‘sign to a major and get fucked over scenario’, they got straight back up and dusted off those black leather keks. Down but not out they return with their lost debut album. To be perfectly honest the first time I’d heard of these was when they supported Shame last year at The 02 Ritz and they were exceedingly top as fuck due to the pure spectacle. I described them as Soft Cell meets The Prodigy back then and I’ll still stick to most of that statement. Although the album has a lot of songs that you may have heard live it stands well with some ambitious moves.
Tracks like the opener The West Is Dead kicks off with brooding lyrics about the impending doom of Western civilisation, where the Dalai Lama wears Dolce & Gabbana in vermillion red trundling in his robes to a smart bassline smattered with electro beats, which kick in with a top beat hazed in laser beams and erotica tinged vocals, repeating the mantra “The West Is Dead”.
Loaded is a live favourite. Top hip hop beat with those sexy vocals from Henry Spychalski. He sold his soul to the devil tonight, cos he was pretty poor, hooked to a nice guitar riff. Sounds like a dig at Sony here. Too right.
Next two tracks The Ballad Of Calamity Jane and To The Door meld into each other in proper spaghetti western tradition nodding to Morricone, especially To The Door which is a full pelted Mariachi hoedown at it’s best. Henry has a unique vocal that gives you flashes of Cave, Marc Almond, Lux Interior. The way the tune switches from upbeat into techno splurges and vocal madness is fuckin great.
Satan, Luella & I mellows the pace a bit, still flowing on the spaghetti western vibe with the Soft Cell torch song vocals. It’s theatrical sounding, hitting on the early 80’s ballad themes. The chorus is shit hot with those haunting backing vocals giving Henry’s angry camped up voice a great edge. Mikey’s Song just screams hit single. It’s fuckin brilliant. It’s Depeche Mode at their best, however it’s a testimony to how good they are a popping out a hit. Are Sony on drugs??? That’s another story….
Why? is a weird little number that could easily slide into a Flaming Lips set list. Strange distorted vocals with layered over violin and keyboards. Short but sweet. 149 goes all techno industrial and introduces us to some nice vocals from Tallulah Eden and some bat shit stuff from Henry yet again.
Next two tracks Joanna and Where’s Joanna? are pure murder ballad stuff. We know where Joanna is. In pieces. Dismembered. Check the lyrics. An insane number that mixes Cave with Lux Interior again and sounds like a old dance hall tune on acid.
Deathdrive is another top as fuck tune. Dark as fuck, melding Suicide with The Cramps. Stop starting with apocalyptic shit running through it. It’s goes fuckin dubstep industrial in parts. Mental. And it ends with an American car crash abruptly.
Nobody Stays In Love goes into Depeche Mode territory again. A proper eighties tinged electro number. Commercial yeah? Sort of, yet HMLTD are doing something on their own, melding great vocals with a massive backbone of electronica holding it all together. MMXX A.D is like a small snippet of futuristic hip hop for 49 seconds melding into the last two tracks Blank State and War Is Looming. Blank State is like a call to revolution. “Throw away your books, rally in the squares, the world is a blank state” harks Henry with this cracking youth anthem that harks back to that 80’s era of electronica again.
Closing number War Is Looming is a doom laden end to an album that touches on changing the face of masculinity, repression, getting fucked over, queer culture, irony. It’s all in there.This band have been through a lot to finally get this released. Ok, there will be naysayers out there who will cry sellout after the Sony debacle. Fuck them. I know a few bands who have been through this and let me tell you, when you’re young and naive and are promised the world by a bunch of suits the world, who want to brand you in their way to sell records for their benefit… Good idea? Depends what you’re after. HMLTD were never about that really. They don’t try to be working class. They talk posh. They create good music. They’re honest. That’s what it’s about. Creating music for everyone, not a cliched pigeonhole that the overblown corporate’s expect. Fair to play to them. Make your own mind up.
I say it’s a fuckin good debut that has eventually arrived and shows commitment to their cause.
Feb 13th | Birmingham, UK @ Mama Roux’s
Feb 14th | Liverpool, UK @ Arts Club
Feb 15th | Edinburgh, UK @ Opium
Feb 16th | Glasgow, UK @ Nice N Sleazy
Feb 18th | Dublin, Eire @ The Sound House
Feb 19th | Manchester, UK @ YES
Feb 20th | London, UK @ Secret Venue
Feb 21st | Bristol, UK @ The Exchange