Monday, March 23, 2009

Reviews:: The Burning Hell Baby

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A few months ago, The Burning Hell came to Halifax and really blew me away. I already enjoyed Matthias’ ukulele ditties – and yes, made the obligatory Stephin Merritt comparisons – but when the band crowded on the small stage at Gus’ Pub, the energy, excitement and enjoyment was unreal. That energy really carries over onto the band’s new Weewerk release, Baby.

As the title implies, Kom somehow manages to create a collection of songs that touch on the childish and naïve, but still appeal to adults by showcasing his quick wit and cynicism. One listen to the infectious melody of The Things That People Make, Part 2 draws you in, but it’s the playfulness that is so important.

You be the dictator, I'll be the oppressed.
You be the baby bird, I'll be the regurgitated worm.
You be the frat boy, I'll be the guitar.

Wit has always been Kom’s biggest song writing strength. He builds narratives laced with clever wordplay and complex emotions from some of the simplest ideas, but this time around it seems like the band really came together. Sure, Kom still drops a few classic sounding tracks (Animal Hides and of course a continuation of the trilogy of murder ballads with, Grave Situation, Part 3), but for the most part the the songs are packed with new textures and a density.

Whether it's a interesting hybrid between tropical vibes and Mariachi inspired riffs (Precious Island) or the piano and dancing mandolin really help fill out the swagger of the infectious The Berlin Conference, the ramshackle collection of sounds add intensity to the songs. The subtle harmonica and group vocals of Berlin Conference transform the song with a nice breakdown, but the track never loses momentum and surges forward confidently until breaking into full stride for the last 90 seconds of the song and the band keeps up the energy with the drum machine heavy, “club folk” infused When the World Ends.

Honestly, the record constantly surprised me.

throws in some organ and horns to spike the tempo, but it’s the chorus (that would fit nicely into a catchy alt-country track) that sticks in your brain. Everything Will Probably Be OK starts as a classic sounding duet with Jenny Omnichord, but the back beat transforms the sound into a Casiotone for the Painfully Alone inspired battle between positive nonsense & inspiration from Jenny ("tomorrow is just another word for today", "you've got to lighten up to make it through the year") and Matthius' painful ennui. If you played the song for someone unfamiliar with Kom’s songs, they would probably give you a confused (or disgusted) face, but as the 7-minute track rolls on, the ends of their mouth would start to turn up and their feet would start tapping.

Really the fact you can't help but like the songs is probably the best way to sum up Baby. Fans will love it - it stays true to what you expect and love about the uke driven troubadour but moves more towards the energy and unashamed fun they deliver in a live setting - but the infectious melodies will win over new fans as well. Win, win if you ask me.

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Posted at 8:25 AM by ack :: 1 comments

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At 11:00 PM, Anonymous Tristan Gray did sayeth:

I can't wait to get a hold of this album! If Mathias and the rest of the hellions have finally(almost) captured their redonkulos live show on an album, i'm sure it's going to be a great one.

Thanks alot for the mp3!


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