Saturday, 6 September 2014

REVIEW: The Hobbes Fanclub - 'Up At Lagrange' (Shelflife Records)

The Bradford-based trio The Hobbes Fanclub conjure up a dreamy, reverb-dipped and melodic sound on their debut album 'Up At Lagrange', which harks back to the restrained production values and style of late 80s/early 90s shoegaze pop. 

The delicate haze and plaintive vocals of 'Into The Night' create a wonderful opening and is followed by the highlight 'Stay Gold', which dazzles with its shimmering guitar hooks, early 90s production and colourful boy/girl vocal melodies. A version of the band's 2012 debut single 'Your Doubting Heart' provides a pacey breeze of sweetness, while the melancholic indie pop punk moment 'The Boy From Outer Space' delivers bright harmonies, yet the lyrics could have done with improvements. Although at first the splendid 'I Knew You'd Understand' just seems to blend in with the previous track, its joyous Stone Roses-esque melodies and emotive jangle catapult it to brilliance, before the wonderful 'Run Into The Sea''s guitars ring out beautifully over a sweetly melodic and powerful, atmospheric backdrop, almost bringing to mind a Felt/Jesus And Mary Chain/Ride hybrid. Absolutely perfect for these late summer nights.
The magnificent shoegaze epic 'How Could You Leave Me Like This' is equally brilliant, contributing towards two fine centrepieces that pull at the heart strings while combining distortion and melody to brilliant effect. 'Outside Myself' is energetic yet melancholic, and comes complete with a very Britpoppy guitar solo, but doesn't feel as strong as the other tracks, while 'Why Should You Tell The Truth' is a dreamy grower, and with it's swooning guitar lines, the title track sounds almost like what might have happened if Sonic Youth wrote ballads. The emotionally expansive, closer 'Sometimes' is beautifully spacious in its simplicity and effective in its largely instrumental structure, concluding the LP wonderfully.

On the very focused 'Up At Lagrage', sunset-lit shoegaze vibes and melodic alt-rock sounds are wired together to create a type of reverb-laden guitar pop that evokes the true indie of decades past, while picking up plenty of influences from more recent years. A delightful slow burning beauty of an album. 7.8/10



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