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The Guilty Hands – Desire On A Short Leash

Guilty Hands, Desire on A Short Leash

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

GUILTY Hands aim to breathe new life into the indie genre. Hence, their songs are meaty, larger than life recordings that aim to pack as much music and lyricism in as possible.

Tracks often feature criss-crossing vocal lines, chiming clocks, harmonies and handclaps, distant voices, desperate gasps and whispers, electronic glitches, samples, violin and distorted synth basslines.

And yet, for all their invention, there’s something missing. Or maybe it’s the opposite… maybe there’s too much going on.

While we don’t mind ingenuity and often bemoan the stale state of mainstream genre entries (be it pop, rock or dance), sometimes you can have too much of a good thing.

Hence, Desire On A Short Leash is a difficult album to like in spite of some very strong moments.

The Guilty Hands first came to prominence after being awarded £15,000 to record an album by investors at slicethepie.com

They were first voted into a showcase by independent reviewers and then raised more money from fans and slicethepie users.

The album that has resulted is certainly interesting… in fact, consistently so. But it only really got us genuinely excited on a couple of occasion.

Final track, the elegy called Black Doves, actually benefits from a more sombre, intimate approach with tweeting birds and acoustic guitar licks providing an effective backdrop to the moody lyrics and vocal delivery. It’s an album highlight and a good way to close.

Album opener, Razor, also drops a compelling meditation on identity, complete with a synth throb that sounds very like a Trent Reznor invention, and some samples. A machine gun chugging guitar riff also explodes things into life and ensures the band has your attention immediately.

Guilty Hands, two tracks on, also benefits from a more radio friendly approach, complete with pleasing “woo hoo” harmonising and a stronger sense of melody than elsewhere.

And The Collector is a nice Faustian tale that makes good use of foreboding guitar riffs and chopped up, warped vocals and sounds. It sounds suitably devilish.

But elsewhere, Guilty Hands could be accused of over-indulgence and prolonging the lengths of some songs. Meat seems to go on and on and becomes less and less endearing, while the ghoulish Silent Partner (about two lovers lost in a graveyard) is a little too smug for its own good.

Even a track like Wilder Shores of Love begins promisingly, even brilliantly, before unfolding into an epic that shifts tempos too often. Sometimes, less is more.

Overall, Desire On A Short Leash is a mixed bag but one that, we say with optimism, marks the arrival of an interesting new band. It may ultimately go down as a failure in our book… but it’s a noble one.

Download picks: Razor, Guilty Hands, The Collector, Black Doves

Track listing:

  1. Razor
  2. Gregory
  3. Guilty Hands
  4. Wilder Shores of Love
  5. The Collector
  6. Silent Partner
  7. The Killing of Isla Nickelson
  8. Down By Your Shoulders
  9. Up On The Hill (No.42)
  10. Meat
  11. Black Doves