REVIEW: The Hosts - 'Softly, Softly' (Fierce Panda Records)

Having grown up in the golden age of indie guitar music, it's fair to say that a lot of the more traditional alternative pop bands of the last few days just don't give me the same thrill that the Britpop bands of my teen years did. Many of the new guitar groups that have emerged over the last few years just don't have the tunes, or any real distinguishing features. The Hosts are different. A quartet from Sheffield who channel 50's romanticism through their charming indie epics, their debut LP follows on from two excellent singles which are both present here. Two tracks were produced by Richard Hawley, who has clearly had a massive influence on the four piece's sound.

'Softly Softly' opens with the dazzling 'Would You Be Blue?', a radiant declaration of love which sparkles with plenty of magnificent pop hooks as well as a melody that could warm even the coldest of hearts. A run of divine opening tracks continues with the melancholic swoon of the elegantly stunning 'September Song', a sublime single which sets heartbreak to a majestic chorus before the yearning, teary eyed waltz 'Where The Cold Wind Blows' provides another blissful moment. As well as the flavours of the rock n roll years there's a hint of late 90's indie that occasionally recalls the anthemic power of Puressence or even stadium-era Manics, yet none of their music actively plagiarises. In fact it's a new combination of old things, and it's rather lovely. 

With its direct, captivating melody the brief, stripped down 'Show Me The Way' takes another leaf from the 50's pop songbook, and the enticing serenade 'The One' is another example of their love for Roy Orbison. In fact it's just as Big O-flavoured as the touchingly faithful cover of 'In Dreams' that appears after the terrific 'Give Your Love To Her', another highlight that bursts with glorious romance and many irresistible hooks. 'Wake Up' is a surprising change of direction that puts the 50's and 60's sound aside for a more contemporary guitar pop sound, while 'With You' is definitely the most relaxed thing here but not quite as strong as the rest of the album seems as first. Maybe it's a grower, we'll see. The closing 'Go Away' is another brilliant hybrid of jangly indie pop and 50's romance, again underlining the sweet, charming melodies with a sense of power and passion.

Demand more magic from your indie music. If you want nothing less than brilliance, give The Hosts a chance and they may just be the band for you. 8/10


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