Dead Wolf Situation is the debut album by Hysterical Injury. This is a drum and a bass, but it isn’t Drum & Base. Described as Rock Noise, but the vocals are melodic. The album is so different from the music I usually listen to I had to run through the whole thing three times just to form an opinion. The sound is raw, sometimes rough around the edges. The tracks have an untampered, feel that makes me think a live performance wouldn’t be so very different. To give you a flavour of what Hysterical Injury are all about, have a listen to their free download track Maths here http://bit.ly/himaths.
Bassist/songwriter Annie Gardiner’s vocals are crystal clear and positively girly, only serving to make the sting in the lyrics that bit sharper. Comparisons have been made with various singers, but she put me in mind of Kate Bush as sung by Debbie Harry with attitude and a healthy dose of late Beatles (circa Sgt Pepper). The singing style owes something to Belly and if you liked them, I suspect you’re going to enjoy Hysterical Injury. One observation I would make is that her voice has greater power when she isn’t reaching for those super high notes. The bass draws you in, or maybe that’s just me.
Brother Tom Gardiner’s drums drive the whole thing, underpinning the music in a way I couldn’t fault. If my comments on his drumming are thin on the ground it’s because when something is right, there really isn’t much to say. The duo have been around since 2007 and have over 200 gigs under their belt, so the album launch on 11th February and subsequent UK tour should present no problem for them.
According to their press release, “Dead Wolf Situation is about sex, rebellion and claustrophobia. The futility and the chase of sex, and society’s obsession with it – which the album is both a part of and kicks against. Rebellion against homogenisation, and against having to fight to remain an individual. And claustrophobia in language, as both a woman (in Annie’s lyrics) and a person… If you like: Sonic Youth, Mazzy Star, Death From Above 1979, Jimmy Chamberlain, Throwing Muses, The Joy Formidable, then this band is for you.” All clear then? Right, let’s get on with reviewing the album.
So once I’d got used to the setup, I really started to enjoy the album. Making notes as I listened to each track for the fourth time seemed the best way to go and so here are my opinions, raw, unvarnished and mostly brief, but considered. I think this approach suits the music.
1. Halo Alkenes (3:46) – took the longest to get my head round for some reason and I think the vocal I like least. The clarion cry, “Viva Difference” apparently appealing to those who reject social uniformity. That’d be me then.
2. Icebreak (3:28) – Love the intro. At first I couldn’t make my mind up about this one, but it is one of those growers that always find their way onto my ipod.
3. Cycle One (3:18) – another track very alien to me but it is another definite grower. Super energetic with sweet and sour vocals, it probably goes down a storm with fans.
4. Vex (3:43) – really good, love this one. The harmonies are slightly suspect at the start, improving as the song wears on. Reckon I’ll keep coming back to this track.
5. Rosetta’s Waves (4:12) – intro is reminiscent of sixties band The Troggs, but Annie’s voice is rather prettier than Reg Presley’s. It moves up into a more contemporary and thought provoking style. I’ve already hit replay more times than strictly necessary.
6. The Works (3:25) – another good track though Annie’s voice thins on higher notes. Cynicism of lyrics contrasts well with clear sweetness of her voice.
7. Visions of Trees (4:29) – starts with a hymnal chant. Very sixties in tone & style until you listen more closely to the lyrics, which concern erotic telepathy. Oh, actually that is a bit sixties too….
8. Into the Cabin (5:26) – a rocking bass solo is joined by powerful drums, then her in come the vocals. Not my favourite & a little too long.
9. Skyline Interface (3.56) – has truly good harmonies, in fact a damn good tune.
10. Maths (2.22) – Nice symmetry in the minutes & seconds there, but could have been longer for me. Also available as a free download and typical enough of the album for you to decide if this one is for you. One of the best tracks.
11. Bitchs Balls (5:14) – another goody
12. Rainbow Thunderclap (4:54) – final track with thought provoking lyrics and great harmonies.
The album will be released on 6th February 2011, and the live launch date is on Saturday 11th February 2012 at Green Park Tavern 45 Lower Bristol Road, BA2 3BD Bath 8pm – 11pm.with special guests She Makes War, Thought Forms and Klad Hest.
Maths is available for anyone for free download from http://bit.ly/himaths
February 4th – Olives, Norwich with the Broken Seas
February 11th – Green Park Tavern, Bath with Thought Forms, She Makes War, Klad Hest
February 14th – Windmill, Brixton, London with Lilies on Mars and She Makes War
February 16th – 10 Feet Tall, Cardiff
February 17th – The Cube, Bristol with High Places and Hesomagari
February 18th – The Bell by the Green, Devizes with Crash and the Bandicoots
February 22nd – Crane Lane Theatre, Cork, Ireland
February 24th – Pine Lodge, Myrtleville, Ireland
Other dates available on This is Fake DIY http://www.thisisfakediy.co.uk/articles/news/hysterical-injury-plot-february-uk-tour