Hong Kong, baby
I don't think that is actually them on the cover of Hong Kong, baby. Mind you, with those masks, how can we really know??
Hong Kong, baby is great! I'm not sure I've ever had such a jump in opinion between the first playing of an album and the second. That first play... I dunno, I'd already heard a couple of the songs, which are good, but, well, the end of the album just felt a bit flat, it seemed like it needed an upbeat number there, and nothing new had grabbed my attention.
Now it has. The first song plays right along with pawf's surrealistic streak - 'little birds were talking about holiday experiences so loud', she can't sleep and that's what's in her head. And all that tweeting makes a great dawn chorus for the record. But Dumb's best song here comes next, the fierce and edgy Beef Rice. 'Beef Rice'? No, me neither. I have the strong feeling I'm missing some joke there. The song's idea is nothing profound - girl finds herself on a train with a load of bad boys but by the end is dischuffed that they didn't bother her at all - but it's all in the telling isn't it? In her droll lyrics and punchy guitar work. She has an acute rock sense and quite apart from all the entertaining lyrics, she's written an excellently meaty set of songs for this album. Like with all the girls the English is of a kind only a Finn could write, but it works - 'This is terror, don't do error'...
And three more very decent rock songs. Zombie is a typically rambling pawf-style story, possibly based on truth because she probably does meet guys like that, but I think it's all so they can sing lines like 'Zombie behave' and 'Is this what you are oughtta do?' Yes, it's maybe the catchiest song in the collection. Despite its worrying rockabilly tendencies :) A bit more anthemic is Jail, another song about the attractions of bad boys (I wonder if her boyfriend knows what image he is supposed to be living up to?) Lastly there is Hero Sounds in which after a romantic film (My Blueberry Nights? Thanks for the warning!) her boyfriend gives her something to remember.
But they all write. Um, I think - actually there's nothing from Cute on this disk which is a shame as she had some good stuff last time out. Several songs from Tough, and they're not all about sea creatures. Which I'm secretly relieved about, because though they're fun, I was beginning to think she was spending too much time down at the aquarium. Okto is frankly a little bit plodding though maybe it expresses very well all you can really say about octopi. Angus is more engaging, it has a lively tune and delivers a statement of the blindingly obvious - 'you wouldn't want to live in piranha world'. No, I don't think I would... or perhaps really we all do??? (Just getting a bit metaphorical there) She says it like I imagine the South Americans do, piran-ya. Angus ends up making friends with a whale, which I would have thought was a friendship with a limited future. The album finishes quietly with the cute little song Sarra; but before then there is Tough's best song yet, Sad Song. I like this a lot, it grows on further listenings. It has no surprises but it's well written and expressive.
I think my favourite song is actually Crazy's The Everlasting Difficulty of Important Choices. Why... um it's about nothing in a way, and as a bloke I certainly can't relate to dilemmas about choosing clothes to go out in (mine all look pretty much the same). But it's got that frenetic tune, and the very best meat-related moment on the record. It (ever so slightly!) reminded me of something They Might Be Giants might have done - Crazy should listen to Flood if she's never heard it. It's a little weird, because my first impressions were of a funny punky band, and they do have a lot of that spirit, but there's so much more going on with their funny nonsense, wry sense of humour and clever tunes. What I like very much is how they're developing as a rock band; and not as a pale imitation of a bloke's rock band, but the different sort of thing that a girl rock band needs to be. Goodness knows how long they'll last, but I'll look forward to whatever else they put out.
Yes, an entertaining album very much worth buying. And no, I have no idea what it has to do with Hong Kong. Have they ever been there?? I have, but I got no vibes from this. It means nothing, and everything.
31 May 2009