I can do clever things with excel spread sheets and I am gainfully employed do so. They give me a nice big office and a few staff that can also do clever things with spread sheets and then make me predict things that might happen to the company and their money. I like it because a) it pays well, b) I am left to my own devices and c) most importantly I get to listen to music all day and as such thoroughly devour a release prior to reviewing it.
Such absorption of a release also usually entails a bit of day dreaming as the last remnants of my childhood ADHD linger well into middle age. As such I tend to create obtuse idealistic imaginings of the ‘band personalities’ of the artists I am reviewing. The Hannah Barberas have piqued this strange tendency more than most.
In my minds eye they all smoke cigarettes. For some reason I associate the stupidity of such an habit with gathered genius after seeing some documentary in my early teens about a group of jazz musicians all brilliantly jamming with cigarettes hanging from their mouths and regularly witnessing half my secondary school teachers puffing away behind the staff room at every break.
Whilst smoking, The Hannah Barberas all present to the gatherings old vinyl records carefully laying them on a green felt cards table (don’t ask…) before playing all manner of intriguing pop gems from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s that really no-one but them could ever really ‘understand’. Of course played on the obligatory very old record player that always seems to be part of such romantic notions.
For on this, their second release in just a couple of months, they reveal themselves (when taken in unison with their initial release, reviewed here) to be the erstwhile saviours of the sound of the yesteryear’s pop in all of its many 80’s and early 90’s guises. Initially the opening track, Slow Cooked (see below), provides a twisted version of the ‘steal a booming Motown bass line’ trick first used by Phil Collins in You Can’t Hurry Love to signal an intent that this EP is somewhat different to the last. At the very least it has way more bass dominance.
However unlike the awful Collins dirge, this track drifts away from pastiche as beautiful strains of the sweetest jangle-pop become increasing infused to a sound, that although eventually returning to the Motown bass at the end of track, visits all sorts of indie chic on the interim journey.
The second track, 10 Feet Tall, sees them take a surprise leap into all things twee-pop. The surprise is not manifest in the fact that they have gone that route as 40 cigarettes each and hundreds of old vinyl obscurities lovingly proffered to a green felt cards table, would undoubtedly mean they are au fait with such a genre.
More specifically is the degree to which they immerse themselves in the cutesy waters of twee and still emerge with consummate cool dryness as the front man wraps an accentuated Phil Sutton type croon around the lyrics of the most dainty of love songs that any melody has ever lent its beauty too….There are no band pictures available yet, however having listened to this I will be very disappointed if all them men are not all in cardigans with side partings hairstyles and Lucy does, the sole female of the band, does not have a lovely floral summer dress. It is as twee as this image suggests in the most cool of ways.
Unusually, the best is left to last in the form a cover of the Tip Top Planets track, Go Go Pepper (see above). I have never heard of this band or track, but then again I do not smoke or have regular gatherings with kindred spirits to present vinyl obscurities to a green felt cards table. However just because my pop knowledge is affronted does not mean that this track is not an absolute banger as they present their version as a strange juxtaposition of the chiming tinny guitar work of The Cry and/or The Groove Farm mixed with the slightly off twee-isms presented by the likes of The Sugargliders / The Hit Parade.
In general another superb release from the surprise packages of the year so far!