Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Hate Week “Nights By The Lake / Blunt Claws / Amplified Heart” (Where It’s At Is Where You Are)


We do love WIAIWYA, and like all “I love you”s, we probably don’t say it enough, because although as a label they’re never all up in yer face (you know, like 808 State, or Paolo di Canio, or the labels that insist on sending us e-mails every bloody day about bands that we wouldn’t touch with the business end of a bargepole), WIAIWYA are always beavering away frantically in the good name of independent music, and they boast exquisite style, and they never tire of rustling up intriguing trinkets, most recently tickling us with Darren Hayman’s inspired “Chants For Socialists” suite, and even WIAIWYA’s occasional clunkers only prove this is a label ever-aware of our long held mantra “when you can’t be good, be different”, and then of course - just every so often - they release a shout-it-from-the-rooftops fine, onion-bag bulging, stonkingly stupendous SINGLE, whether it’s “Queen B” or “Salinger Wrote” or “Promised Land” or whatever, and just as we still beam from ear to ear even thinking about the joy of finding WIAIWYA 4, for example (‘twas Sportique’s “If You Ever Change Your Mind”) in HMV’s flagship place on Oxford Street nearly 20 years ago, liberating it from the racks and feeling the love big time as it hit the Aiwa deck within the hour, we feel sure that we’ll be smiling at the mere thought of this latest 7” in two decades’ time (and yes, it’s conceivable, but on balance unlikely, that by then we might have learned to write in shorter sentences, or to think about what to write before we actually start typing...)

We can’t find much divulged about WIAWYA’s latest discoveries, Hate Week, on t’internet, which is nicely surreptitious, and takes me back to the days of reviewing records when you had nothing to go on but the sound and the sleeve and your journalistic instincts (ha), and that lack of any dino-size online footprint pleasingly removes the dread hand of marketing and social media onslaught from the whole enterprise, and in any case it’s not actually too taxing upon ear-devouring this ace little disc to discern that the Week must be descended in some serendipitous way from one of Sweden’s finest exports this century, the ever-mighty Faintest Ideas (a combo whose swansong left us feeling “both churned-up and ecstatic”, a feeling we find flooding back to us now). The vinyl itself is smartly housed in one of WIAIWYA’s rather winsome wraparound air-mail style stamped sleeves (literally stamped – a 2nd class Queen’s head plus 5 centime timbres, philately fans) and its contents, when lovingly de-sheathed by our fair hands, unfurl an A4 pic of three smiley-looking chaps just hangin’ out, underneath a massive and improbable mural of a sprinter with an undone shoelace, together with the revelation that this was recorded by “Daniel, Joel and Markus” (presumably the said three chaps) in Gothenburg, and that it was Daniel wot wrote these everything-affirming songs.

“Nights By The Lake”, which is stretched across side A must, we think, be the pick of the EP: it’s wiry and edgy and tense, yet there’s more space in it than yr typical buzzsaw F-Ideas hayride, with a touch of early Cure in the plaintive vocals, and pacy guitar lines that lay a line of little UXBs across your heart as Hate Week entice and entreat and stretch every sinew to pluck out vivid memories of the things and the people and the music they’ve loved, and they worry about whether that love was in vain. Then, just as the song seems to be reaching a triumphant if harrowing crescendo, it splutters and collapses across the finish line instead, as a song so full of regret and fidgety nervousness and gut-wrenching anxiety just SHOULD, so absolutely should.

On the other side, “Blunt Claws” feels more squarely cut from Faintest cloth, but is still nearly as sky-bracingly brilliant as “Nights”, with its skittering and crashing guitars soundtracking another theme of desperation, of grasping to survive the present even as time and opportunity slip from your grip to leave nothing but a trail of bittersweet memories in your wake. Somehow, the music both soars divinely and shambles precariously - sometimes alternately, sometimes simultaneously - & in doing so perfectly captures what Hate Week do so well: walking a tightrope between indie-pop optimism and punkish hunger. By the time third tune “Amplified Heart” - a flat-out sprint to the finish which apes the simple brevity of Boyracer’s run of (sadly alternative universe) smash hits - stomps over the white line on to the dewy turf, you’re in no doubt that this is a very special record, a record destined to be ignored by the tastemakers and the twitterati and the general populace, but one that we’re more than prepared to cleave to our own silly, soggy little hearts.

Today, if we retrace our route to nabbing WIAIWYA 4 all those years ago (from a Baron’s Court bedsit to Leicester Square on the Piccadilly Line, before the traditional zigzag pilgrimage on foot via the variegated vinyl emporia of Berwick Street), we’re no longer ushered into the Aladdin’s cave of His Master’s Voice but instead confronted by the brutalist stare of Mike Ashley’s hangar-like Sports Direct (*sigh*) but however much that throws us, and however transient record shops always prove, we know that wares we once bought there continue to thrill long after the bricks and mortar have died a thousand deaths by refit. And we know that in these rushed paras we’ve projected our own emotions onto somebody else’s songs, and so we’re guilty of moulding Hate Week and their lyrics and their themes into what we want them to represent, to reflect our own private idiosyncrasies and wiles, but isn’t that what all of us do with the artists that we fall for? What matters is that, in Hate Week, we’ve stumbled (thanks to WIAIWYA!) across a band that can *fire* our febrile imaginations so.

1 comment:

stricken office worker said...

Heavens, we forgot - it was only when finding our copy of the Defisis/Blade 12" the other day that we recalled that WIAIWYA also brought us that excellent 1st Defisis release, a titanic UK hip hop flavour. A sound less "indie pop" you couldn't really get, but yet another testament to both the width and excellence of John's roster over 20+ yrs...