Whilst it is not an encounter to instantly set the emotions on fire or leave the imagination awe struck, the A New Habit EP from The Hertz Complex quietly and relentlessly works away at the psyche to emerge as a rather tasty, potential fuelled proposition. It is a slowly burning but persistently persuasive release which puts the band on the radar with ease whilst brewing up a keen anticipation for the quartet ahead as they evolve and grow further into their enterprising sound. The band’s debut EP is as intriguing as it is deceptively infectious, its songs smouldering rather than blazing within ears but they leave seeds and hooks behind which from nowhere can take a hold of the memory.
Hailing from Cork in Ireland, songwriters Neil O’Keeffe (lead vocals, guitar) and Paul Keane (guitar/vocals) have formed an instinctive creative partnership which brings an organic breath and attraction to their songs as evidenced on the EP. Embracing the inspirations of their Irish roots and of bands such as The Chameleons, Joy Division, Whipping Boy, and Howling Wolf, the pair’s distinct twist of post punk with melodic unpredictability offers healthy bait with an imaginative coaxing. Relocating to the Deptford area of London, the duo linked up with Canadians Benjamin Balan (drums) and Chris Keelan (bass), the compelling rhythmic side to the lure of The Hertz Complex. With their live performances, including festivals and a headlining show at LA’s Whisky A Go Go, constantly drawing more attentive fans and responses, as well as the recent announcement that one of their tracks will be featured in a movie soundtrack, it feels like a big step is being taken in the ascent of The Hertz Complex, something A New Habit adds its persuasive weight to.
Maybe I Know starts things off and takes little time in enticing thoughts and appetite with its chilled but seductive charm. A shimmering sonic coaxing wraps ears first, its touch framed by punchy beats. Before long a guitar weaving magnetically flirts with the senses, dripping evocative hues as the bass adds its own dark colour. It is a potent welcome which only increases its pull once settling into a steady canter of crisp rhythms and spiralling sonic endeavour. Infectious melodies equally add their rich enticement to create a gripping canvas upon which the initially monotone kissed plaintive clad tones of O’Keeffe opens the narrative. It is a striking union, elements of Joy Division and at times Modern English swirling within the provocative climate being brewed by the band. Thoughts of Flesh For Lulu also make an appearance as the song increases the strength of its virulent suasion and enterprise. As the EP, it is not a song which explodes and has passions drooling but with its persistent fuzz lined sonic taunting and melodic web it is an encounter which beds deeply into the psyche for a long term friendship.
The great start is followed by the just as appealing and addictive Bassy. From its first breath, guitars are binding ears with entrancing acidic melodies and irresistible hooks, but it is through the shadowed throated tones of Keelan’s bass croon that the appetite is sparked into hungry rapture. There is an indefinable familiarity to the main sonic call of the song too which only works in the song’s favour whilst the slightly off kilter vocals add another intrigue sparking texture to the proposition. The track holds a restrained air to its intent, a hint of explosive incitement promised never realised yet again though it is a song which embeds in an awakened imagination for a lingering and welcome persistent presence.
Next up The Boxer Rebellion brings a broader rock ‘n’ roll intent to its keen gait and suggestive almost sinister breath. The vocals veer to a more strained delivery than elsewhere at times but also breaks into a varied punk kissed antagonism to match the evolving sound and adventure of the track. A song which merges elements of initially post punk with hard and garage rock plus that punk essence, it almost does not know what it wants to be but is still a fluid storm to thoroughly enjoy. It does not match the opening pair of songs but shows another range and depth to the sound and songwriting of the band as does its successor No Control. The song is a delicious croon of vocals and guitar, an evocative smoulder which lures in thoughts and appetite with increasing success as the rest of the band bring with their potent colours. Like the previous song it takes a while to fully seduce but given time makes for a persistence of reserved hooks and gentle melodies which entrench their fascination long term.
The EP is completed by the radio edit of Maybe I Know which is as good as the broader version but over too soon in comparison of course. A New Habit EP is probably not going to send you shouting from the rooftops to be honest but it has all the promise and exciting qualities to make The Hertz Complex a band to keep under close and keen scrutiny.
A New Habit EP is available now!
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