The Hoosiers - The News From Nowhere (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
BY their own admission, The News From Nowhere is the sound of The Hoosiers at their most honest and free.
Gone is the self-consciousness of the dog days around their second album, as is the self-doubt, replaced instead by a deeply rooted – and hard won – confidence and a determination to recapture the freedom and joy of the early days.
What’s more, the new album was produced by the band and recorded in the East London warehouse where bassist Martin Skarendahl has amassed a collection of vintage recording equipment and instruments.
“Doing it on our own terms,” says lead singer Irwin Sparkes, “and actually having a proper say in it, felt wonderful. We have nothing to lose, but a lot to prove.”
The result is a generally amiable listen that does, admittedly, struggle to consistently deliver killer tracks.
Hopes were raised with catchy lead single Make Or Break (You Gotta Know), which displayed an almost classic American alt-rock quality akin to The Cars. It also drops one of the best choruses on the LP.
But there are times when the remainder of the album screams out for another immediate crowdpleaser in that vein.
On the positive side, they’re good at mixing up the tempos. My Last Fight, the track that immediately follows that former single for instance, is a solid mid-tempo ballad that’s high on the emotional fallout of a failed relationship.
While there’s some catchy melodicism surrounding Fidget Brain, a comical look at an insomniac, that is as livewire instrumentally as its name suggests. This one occasionally feels as though it’s been inspired by classic The Cure.
While their newfound humour is also evident on the cheeky look at vanity that is Handsome Girls and Pretty Boys, which even adopts a Brit-pop element akin to Parklife-era Blur at times.
On title track The News From Nowhere, the understated melancholy piano chords and almost whispered vocals struggle to really make an impression (despite some interesting use of brass), while Rocket Star is a fairly run-of-the-mill pop track that never takes off as you feel it should.
If anything, the first half of the album is stronger than the second. To The Lions, for instance, adopts a breezy piano pop approach and falsetto vocal akin to Supertramp or ELO (but not quite as good), while Upset adopts the sort of cute guitar licks that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on an ’80s Spandau Ballet or Duran Duran track (and sounds appropriately dated).
Even on a track like Weirdo, they go for the kooky when something a little more edgy might have worked. Indeed, the diversity that marked the first half of the album is less apparent on the run-in.
Hence, for all the goodwill surrounding the album, this does ultimately promise more than it delivers despite some decent moments.
Download picks: Make Or Break (You Gotta Know), My Last Fight, Fidget Brain