Hilary and the Hate Crimes - Things Can Only Get Worse - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Hilary and the Hate Crimes - Things Can Only Get Worse

by Andy Brown Rating:9 Release Date:2019-06-12
Hilary and the Hate Crimes - Things Can Only Get Worse
Hilary and the Hate Crimes - Things Can Only Get Worse

Some albums you wait for with bated breath while others manage to catch you unawares. Things Can Only Get Worse by Leeds-based bluesy, post-punks Hilary and the Hate Crimes falls into the latter category. After some particularly heavy-rotation on my headphones, it’s apparent that it might just be one of the finest albums I’ve heard this year. I honestly can’t stop listening to it.

The trio describes themselves as a “sort of anti-supergroup featuring the least capable members of three good bands”. Hilary Knott, D. Millard and Stephen Coombe have been on the Leeds music scene for some time now; coming from the Devo-worshipping Cowtown, the eccentric organ and drum groove duo Two-Minute Noodles and the Fall-esque d’Astro. Hilary and Hate Crimes are something else altogether.

A dirty, brooding sound that crawls out of the same swamplands previously occupied by late-period Birthday Party. ‘Delivery’ summons the swaggering spirit of Gallon Drunk with a (un)healthy dash of twisted, early-Bad Seeds. Coombes vocals drip with disgust and a flair for the theatrical as Knott and Millard drown our sorrows in the some thundering, goth-like, post-punk blues.

The stalking, sleazy groove of ‘In Mutual Terror of the Electrickery Demon’ leads into the decadent, booze-soaked charge of ‘The Rise and Fall of the Black Horse Disco’. Close your eyes and you can almost hear Nick Cave screaming, “hands up, who wants to die?!” The influences are loud and clear yet Things Can Only Get Worse never sounds less than inspired.

There’s a wickedly dark sense of humour that creeps through the bluesy swamp-stomp with self-described tales of “LS6 parties, sleazy literary wolves, middle-aged shipping crate discos, school discos in squats” and the time one of them lost an arm “in the cogs of a poorly maintained pie machine”.

The lost arm in question becomes sentient and evil (naturally) during the course of the excellent ‘We’ve Got to Know Who’s Alive’. One part Evil Dead, one part horror paperback and one part Trash Box, rock ‘n’ roll cool. Of course, it’s all played completely straight-faced and with maximum menace.

There’s genuinely not a weak moment on the album yet the closing ‘Away in a Stranger’ still manages to stand out. “Frankincense and mirth and danger” sings a lustful, regretful and bleary-eyed Coombes, “it’s Christmas time/ I’m away in a stranger”.

The dark doo-wop of the chorus finds them elegantly wasted and dancing, “the baby Jesus dance”. A typically salacious and strangely beautiful song to bring the album to a deliciously dreamlike conclusion. Things Can Only Get Worse is an endlessly compelling debut album full of snarled vocals, punk energy and dark humour.

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