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Niagarama (Pledge)

By • Mar 21st, 2014 • Category: long players

Life. Funny old thing. HTS are having a midlife crisis, that’s my professional opinion. Unsurprising as they must already have a personality one – regular lineup changes and possibly some sort of dysmorphia, it seems having slimmed down from 12 or so members to the current slimline five, featuring members of The Second Hand Marching Band, The Martial Arts and the now-defunct Mother and The Addicts.

This is the band’s second full-length album and despite critical acclaim and having respected labels like Electric Honey and Creeping Bent put their previous records out, they remain largely unappreciated by the general public, barring a hard core of fans.

So, this is a concept album. About going over the titular Niagara Falls in a barrel (having “sold the practice”). Ok, that might be more of a metaphor. No, this is about life, and, well, the inevitable decline as one leaves one’s twenties.
From then on, things get more specific – ‘Small Parts’ emphasises the sense of pathos, a moving piece despite its fast string intro, which is pure, dirty 100mph punk rock.

The introspective self-analysis continues. “I’m too old for a crush to be endearing”, laments singer Ink Wilson, before a light at the end of the tunnel: “When I rule the word everything will be better”. The cheery pop collapses into a swirling maelstrom of prog that Van der Graaf would be proud of.

An old friend pays a visit – ‘Doesn’t Have To Be You’, an old single, where things are looking up – “I still look 19 when I have a shave” as mellifluous brass soundtracks the descent into ‘I Need A War’ – “I need a tumour” – what the singer needs, he confesses, is a kick up the arse – over sweetly-played strings and sweeping backing vocals. There’s another familiar one in ‘Bacterium’, all fuzzy guitar played at a frantic pace, while newie ‘Animals’ concerns relationships, with reference to the passing of time, of course: “You’re past your prime… days get shorter and years get shorter.”

There’s a crack in the clouds with closing track ‘All That We Wait For’ – “Love you with all that we wait for – wait for me”, as a massive chorus swells along with our hearts and a sense of optimism for the future wins through.
So, crisis averted? If Niagarama gets the acclaim it deserves then surely fame, riches and a sense of satisfaction must lie in store.
Sadly, life tends not to work like that…

Niagarama is launched at Glasgow’s CCA on Friday 21st March

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