“Sprechgesang” is thrown around far too often these days. Every man and his cat has started using the phrase to describe anything vaguely angular with a hint of spoken word. While admittedly at times it can be a handy catch all, let’s not beat around the bush, what people really mean when they use the term is that the band in question sound a hell of a lot like The Fall.
Like many miserabilists before them, Hotel Lux could quite easily be tarred with this brush, but to do so would be doing them great disservice. Unlike the majority of their peers, they are acutely aware of their position in the musical landscape. Hands Across The Creek, their debut album, acknowledges the Mark E. Smith comparisons right off the bat. Before you’ve even had time to think lead vocalist Lewis Duffin is namechecking Salford’s finest over sleazy keyboard plonks and rickety guitar riffs. By doing this they instantly exorcise the ghosts of sprechgesang’s past, ridding themselves of the weight and expectations of the label, enabling them to be whoever they want to be.
The group’s newly discovered freedom results in a string songs that have more than an eye for the grubby dancefloor. ‘Common Sense’ and ‘Strut’ are skew-whiff indie anthems in the making, while last year’s breakthrough single ‘National Team’ is refreshed by its new strange surroundings.
As you might expect, the majority of Hands Across The Creek oozes with a sarcasm so thick it clogs your ear holes right up, but towards the back end the group take a real left turn, taking us all on a ride on the self-reflection train. The acoustic strums of ‘An Ideal For Living’ and the tipsy, Mike Skinner-tastic, ‘East Being Lazy’ shouldn’t work, but somehow Hotel Lux pull it off, proving once and for all that there’s much more to this lot than pure post-punk retroism.
Mark E. Smith? Never heard of him.
Please support Loud And Quiet if you can
If you’re a fan of what we do, please consider subscribing to L&Q to help fund our support of new musicians and independent labels
You can make a big difference for a few pounds per month, and in return we’ll send you our magazines, exclusive flexi discs, and other subscriber bonus bits and pieces
Try for a month and cancel anytime