Friday, January 20, 2012

Hulaboy "Fuck You, We Love Us!" (Milk and Alcohol)

In a world which, mystifyingly, has concluded that neither Boyracer or Hula Hoop are in its pantheon of all-time greats it must come as no surprise that the blended version, Hulaboy (despite a stellar catalogue, including releases on both Harriet and 555) are also strangers to Grammies and platinum discs. Happily, this has not stopped Stewart Anderson and Eric Stoess (for it is they) from serving up superb vignettes of kitchen-sink melodrama over the years, with songs from recent records such as "When Owls Cry" and "The English Mindset" still setting our hearts on fire, even if not the harder-to-melt hearts of the Great Record-Buying Public. And much as the rather off-the-wall names of this EP and of its constituent tracks do their best to throw you off the scent, the good news for those of us that have previously succumbed to their charms is that "FYWLU!" sees Hulaboy as dark and as pretty, as lyrically intriguing and as moving as ever.

EP opener "Western Mark E. Smith" is typical: its story seems slight (this is a conversation about a conversation, a misunderstanding in a bar) but it's as true-to-life and engaging as any Anderson confessional, with a keyboard intrusion into the choruses which recalls the Boyracer of "Punch Up The Bracket", say. Next, "I Find Your Topsiders & Beard Amusing" again belies a seemingly random title by unfolding another touching, skittering lament while guitars gently meander in and out of the chorus, sprinkling a little indie magic here and there in much the way of Huon or the Wedding Present at their more thoughtful ("Saturnalia", say), with Eric's voice always threatening to break down a little, trying to salvage hope from a grey dawn.

The accelerator pedal hits the floor for the crashing "I'm Not From Louisville, I'm From LaGrange Motherfucker!", which could be a stunt double for any of the pacier songs on "Sunlight Is The Best Antiseptic", as Stewart launches into familiar tangles of hurt and miscommunication amid the rampant guitars. A little calm is restored when Eric re-emerges on vocals for another tune, "Oh Lord. CHUKKA!" (see what we mean about the song titles ?) which is, quite literally, a list of regrets - in case you hadn't clocked the Hulaboy ouevre by now - but its whispered candour and eye for an original line makes it as plaintive as anything else they've done. Oh, and secreted amongst the quartet of Hulaboy originals herein described is a fifth track proper, "Not An Orange Juice Cover": it is our solemn duty to confirm that it is, indeed, not an Orange Juice cover. It is a cover though, and of one of our all-time favourite 80s hit singles.

We sometimes wonder whether good "indie" as we used to know it exists at all today. Has the Man redefined it out of existence, or is it still 'out there', but just failing to register, to prick the senses in the way it used to in those days when a new 7" could seem crucial to your life ? But then you hear records like this, which are unmistakably "indie" in every sense of the term, and realise that there *are* still gems out there: it's just that they're hidden, perplexingly, almost beyond discovery. So it would almost spoil the thrill of the hunt were we simply to direct you here to download this, but we will, not least because any donation you choose to make will go to the best of causes.

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