- 19 Feb 20
Classic debut from art-rock contenders
My discovery of London’s HMLTD a few years back coincided with becoming a fan of Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, and I remember thinking that – for all the heralding of rock’s demise – here were two bands each in their own way forging a unique and hugely exciting path.
HMLTD, for their part, were genuine mainstream contenders: their glam-punk aesthetic and slew of art-pop anthems making them obvious crossover material. With songs like ‘Stained’ and ‘Is This What You Wanted?’, they captured the social media-saturated, politically tumultuous zeitgeist. They were the sort of band talent scouts the world over crave, and their major label – having shelled out a small fortune to nurture the band – made a colossal error in dropping them.
It’s a mistake compounded by West Of Eden, which instantly joins the ranks of classic British rock debuts. With a thematic focus on the west’s political, social and environmental decline, art-pop stompers like ‘Loaded’, ‘Where’s Joanna?’ and ‘Death Drive’ have you dancing and singing along even as you’re contemplating the apocalypse.
Best of all, though, is the single ‘Satan, Luella & I’, which commences with the memorable lines “We’ve been up and down these hills / And found ourselves in different pills”, before delivering a quasi-political manifesto that would raise a few eyebrows at the Fine Gael ard fheis: “Not every war’s unjust / Not every faith is love / No orgasm is ever enough!”
Brilliant, caustic, stylish and darkly funny, West Of Eden is everything you’d want in a record and already one of the albums of the year.