Album Review – Handclaps and Tambourines by Librarians With Hickeys (2022) (Big Stir Records)
Like the roast dinners your mum/gran used to make, there is something so wonderfully familiar about this Handclaps and Tambourines album by Big Stir Records flagship act, Librarians with Hickeys, that provides the perfect recipe for a trip swathed in the best of yesteryear psyche, jangle and power-pop nostalgia.
At it’s core, the best of the album wins the fight emerge from the confines of omnipresent beauty and explore the boundaries of ‘letting go’. As such Better Go Home,Ghost Singer, I See You and Over You take the Teenage Fanclub / Dropkick vocal smoothness and languidity and re-engineer such an aesthetic by adding swirling organs, extra psyche-rock machinations and increased tempos that take them towards the glorious scmaltzy end of the 70/80s power-pop lexicon. A thrill a minute, such tracks effortlessly take you back to the best of power-pop times.
The remainder of the album tends to emphasise all things psyche to a greater extent and with equally superb effect. Can’t Wait ‘Till Summer, I Can’t Stop Thinking of You and Me and My Big Mouth are the perfect blend of West Coast and UK 60s psyche. Imagine the songs of The Beatles being performed by the extra sweetness of an act like The Beach Boys, with just a little of The Monkees playfulness added to the mix and you have stumbled accross a musical ball park you could dwell in during any moment of life’s sunshine.
Away from the thrill, perhaps the most beguiling of the release is heard in the Canterbrury psyche/folk of Last Days of Summer and When We Were Young which plink, jangle and sidle their way through the 60s like a summery flower-power reunion.
It has been wonderful watching the Big Stir Records label growing from strength to strength over the last five years and long may it continue if they keep unearthing and backing acts like this.