When Avenge Vulture Attack announced a reincarnation as Hitchcock Blonde it has to be admitted a slight groan escaped from within, accompanied by an audible air of worry. Would the sound follow the same route as the move from what was a snapping combative name into a more, though admittedly it carries its own intrigue and shadows, noir yet glamorous one? Would the great punk pop sounds with their impressive snarl which had captured our enthusiasm previously turn into an elegant fluffier form of pop music was the question and fear. Their debut release the Five Pounds EP now provides the answers and dispels those fears. Yes the music has changed but into a new compelling force which, yes has arguably lost the raw punk edge which wonderfully marked their previous releases, but has evolved into something just as enthralling and exciting, to make the release itself one thrilling contagion.
From London, Hitchcock Blonde consists of guitarist Drew Wynen, bassist Joss Nightingale, and drummer Ben Davies, speared by the enticing and striking voice of Ella Grace. It is a combination of skilled inventive musicians and elements which has already led the band to strong acclaim, an energetic and growing fan base, and to playing some of the top venues around the UK this past year sharing stages with the likes of The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster, My Red Cell, Wrongnote, and The Mars Patrol. Comparisons with bands such as Band of Skulls, the Foo Fighters, and Skunk Anansie have been placed upon the bands though the quartet inspire other more accurate thoughts in that area whilst creating their own distinct presence and breath with songs which captivate and lead senses and bodies into a riot of infectious escapades.
Recorded with Tobin Jones (Cold Specks, The Twilight Sad), Five Pounds opens with the immediately engaging Baby Knows Best. Its initial breeze is a gentle caress rising to a crescendo of striking riffs and vibrant energy. The song then settles into a warm slow stroll with the wonderful vocals of Grace leaving extra heat with her expressive and full tones. Though arguably that previously mentioned snarl has now gone the track as it explodes into dramatic sonic explosions still offers a certain attitude from their previous guise, a bite which obviously will never abandon the creativity and heart of band and music. The song moves through unexpected and delicious breaks in pace and direction, brief seamless movements which flow perfectly and only go to make the song magnetic and impressive.
The great start is left in the shade somewhat by the brilliant Buzzkill, a song which holds many disguises within its pulsating and magnetic enterprise. It is another gentle and warm beginning with the guitar of Wynen playing the ear and heart like a harp, his play tantalising the aural taste buds and thoughts whilst the bass of Nightingale prowls around the sounds with a devilish yet unintimidating gait. As the guitar plucks with singular and hypnotic elegance, Grace offers her vocal seduction to leave one transfixed. Once immersed within its irresistible arms the song then erupts into a bristling and inciting energy safe in the knowledge you are going nowhere. The mini ‘riots’ are another shift within a song of great imagination and outstanding craft. Along its delicious body the song integrates the same elements again whilst offering further stunning delight through slow sparkling melodic kisses until it all sparks up into a fiery climax which leaves one breathless. The best song on the release, it is an excellent invention of elegant craft, unchained imagination, and controlled aggression.
Cutglass is a less provocative track, its crystal whispers next to eager rhythms from Davies is a skilful union whilst again the vocal smouldering of Grace bewitches the passions. It does not quite light up the fires as the first pair of songs but leaves one completely absorbed and satisfied with its more reserved yet potent emotive charms. The track carries a charge too which ignites its climax, an energy and intent which ripples throughout Sexy Like You, a piece of pop rock which sways and taunts with attitude and sweltering melodic majesty with a blues whisper on its lips.
The release ends with the sizzling energy and charge of Let It Go and the irresistible teasing of Animal, an exceptional track where the band venture into the punkish qualities which marked their early days. Both take one on a ride of infection and enterprise, the first a slice of sparking muscular pop with a touch of Metric to it and the second a lightly bruising piece of brilliance which comes from the same blood pumping rock n roll found within the likes of The Objek and eighties band Au-Pairs.
The Five Pounds EP is exceptional, a real pleasure to leave the heart excited and desperate for more whilst destroying those initial groundless fears. Hitchcock Band will be a band to shape the future of UK indie Pop rock and we for one cannot wait.
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