Review Summary: A guaranteed 'Turn off that damn ruckus!' from your parents, 10 seconds in.
The debut album of the Hickey Underworld is a real car record. Make that a real rally record. This isn't about cruising the highways, but instead it's superbly suited to destroy the speed limits, to drift through tight corners, to grind through the gravel and to wade through mud pools. Ideally, there's a huge storm raging outside and the rain is pouring down from the skies. Battling against the forces of nature, that's the sound of The Hickey Underworld.
Presented here are ten violent uppercuts disguised as songs. And aside from Of Asteroids and Men... Plus Added Wizardy
(there has to be a track that everyone skips on every record, Michael Bradley of The Undertones said once) they hurt where it counts. Zero Hour
opens the record on the most explosive manner possible. The guitar noise and the wailing voice of singer Younes Faltakh make it understandable why these guys are considered a post hardcore band. The nitro boost is activated with Sick of Boys
and Blonde Fire
makes it sound like the band is crashing into a massive brick wall. If you are like me and don't normally listen to 'harder genres' (metal, hardcore, stuff like that), the album is a tough listen at first. After a couple of spins though, song structures and melodies reveal themselves hidden beneath the violence, most notably on the single Future Words
With all these positive words so far, why then the somewhat lower 3,5 rating? Well, for starters we have the aforementioned skippable track, Asteroids... It's just too long. After an interesting and promising start of hard riffs, The Hickeys start a jam fest that keeps on going (or so it seems) and interest is lost. One bad song isn't a complete disaster on itself, but the songs that follow don't pack quite the punch as the ones on the first half of the record. They're still uppercuts, but the boxers who provide them sound kind of fatigued here.
Let's just blame it on the manic enthusiasm of the guys at the start. As stated, the first 6 tracks are uniformly excellent and they have plenty of potential for the future. The album is a case of harder, faster, louder, but with Future Words The Hickey Underworld prove they can write a layered and atmospheric pop song as well. Another reviewer has put it this way: "The debut of The Hickey Underworld is the perfect musical companion for when you want to play Guantanamo Bay at your home." And that really says it all.