Hotpants Romance - The International Hotpants Romance

by Rich Morris Rating:8 Release Date:2010-11-08

Hold on to your milkshakes 'cos they're back - Britain's messiest, funnest, leggiest band returns with their second long-player. Since the release of their debut, It's a Heatwave, Manchester's irrepressible Hotpants Romance have been spreading their unique brand of garage rock 'n' roll across the UK and - yes - internationally. For the uninitiated (and, oh, lucky you because you get to discover them), think 60s schoolgirl oddities The Shaggs fired up into punk apoplexy by The Raincoats, The Ramones and The Fall.

A subtle change can be detected on this second album, however. It's small but it's there: Listening to the bright and breezy strum-a-long of opener 'Go Dancing', it appears Hotpants Romance's sound has become - gasp - very slightly refined. The atom bomb detonations of shrill anarchy such as 'Heartwave' and 'Effin' & Jeffin' which splattered their first record are thin on the ground here, although that in no way means The International... is a slick product. The band's music is still delightfully rough around the edges; drums clatter and guitars thrash; members Laura, Lowri and Kate (who all take turns singing) still share a vocal style roughly equivalent to a drunken teenage girl screaming at her boyfriend outside a Yates'.

Perhaps even more than It's a Heatwave, The International... is a summer record. There are songs about dancing, driving and visiting Blackpool. The album closes with a sweet little shimmy of a song called 'Summer Romance'. Bless their perverse little socks for releasing such a record just as we hit the dead of winter. Lyrically, it's like peering into the diary of a lovesick, slightly sociopathic adolescent girl. The brilliant, pop-tastic 'Emails' has the girls cooing (or, at least, a hysterical approximation of cooing), "Oooh, he's ignoring my emails/ Oooh, he's ignoring my phonecalls". There's a witty twist, however: once the boy acknowledges her existence, the girl loses all interest. The following song, 'Internet', sticks with this cyber-stalker theme, featuring some genius lyrics: "I fancy your face/ No, it's photoshopped... In the film Misery/ I get your legs chopped/ I need sectioning/ to get this crush stopped". The classic garage rock of 'You're Not Funny', meanwhile, is nothing more than a string of violent threats. It's awesome.

Overall, The International... sees Hotpants Romance refining their sound a little while also dipping their toes in new territory (moody post-punk track 'The Knife' is, at three-minutes-seven-seconds, longer than anything on their debut). Let's not over-think it though. The International Hotpants Romance is, above all, glorious, strange fun. It's a summer record released as the nights draw in, a fantastic pop statement made by three ladies who epitomise punk spirit more than anyone else around right now. No other record released this year sounds quite like it and that's reason enough for you to want to hear it.

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