Hollow – Cut Off Your Hands

20 Jul

New Zealand doesn’t seem like the most likely place that you are going to find post-punk inspired indie rock. Bands in the same mould as Cut Off Your Hands were literally everywhere in the UK a few years back but have been forced out by the far superior likes of N-Dubz (that is a false statement). Thankfully fewer musical atrocities seem to have reached NZ and so the likes of COYH (for the sake of brevity) are still going.

Their first LP, You and I, was released in 2009 and while it boasted one of my favourite songs of the year in Expectations, it felt rather generic. With no real pressure to innovate and differentiate, the record was twelve songs that, although very-polished, essentially could have been on countless other Britpop albums released around the same time. The songs were frantic and each one was very in your-face. It was good indie rock though and Expectations (check the video below) was a corker so I’ve looked forward to their sophomore effort ever since.

It arrives as Hollow. And a listen right through the album clearly shows the mania of You and I is history. There are only nine songs but each one is different with its own ‘unique selling point.’ To avoid merely a description of each song, I’ll start off purposefully generic. Hollow has a seamless flow to it as each track compliments and expands upon those that have preceded it. There’s the slow and moving closer Buried and the Cure-esque You Should Do Better opener. In between there is a treat of the moody (By Your Side), the anthemic (Hollowed Out) and the fervour (Fooling No One – below).

Fooling No One in particular just feels so Britpop. It’s exciting and typical Cut Off Your Hands. My favourite track of the album though lies in the latter half. Down And Out is kind of difficult to describe. It’s very catchy but so much more than just that. There’s a real sound, the incessant drumbeat, the ethereal background vocals and the jagged guitar all act in unison to compliment Nick Johnston’s vocals at their best. The song just really works.

Track by track, the difference between Hollow and You and I, quality-wise, is not that significant. But looking at the LPs as a total piece of music, Hollow is much, much better. Sombre, controlled and intelligent, it must be bought when it’s released on Frenchkiss on August 16th.

P.S. Note that this post is on canyouhearthis.co.uk (and not .wordpress) -> very, very cool


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