Hanni El Khatib - Moonlight - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Hanni El Khatib - Moonlight

by Rich Morris Rating:5 Release Date:2015-01-19

Hanni El Khatib has described his music as “songs for anybody who has ever been shot or hit by a train”, which you have to admit is going to limit his fanbase somewhat. Unless he wasn’t being literal, but instead spinning a music-press-friendly soundbite. But that would be a frightfully cynical attitude to adopt, so let’s take him at his word and assume that Mr Khatib really believes that what people recovering from brutal injuries want to hear is some slavishly copyist but generally well-realised garage-come-cock-rock with a bit of a lounge-lizard twist.

Cos that’s what on offer on this, his third album. The likes of ‘Melt Me’, ‘Chasin’ and the title track rock like King Khan’s knowingly ersatz revivalism, but with less of the soul aspect (except on the groovy ‘Servant’) and plus some balls-out soloing, like Guns N’ Roses dry-humping The Black Keys. It’s well played and well produced (little effects and tricks enliven both ‘Melt Me’ and ‘Chasin’) but there’s no depth here.

When the album shifts gear into down-tempo numbers like ‘Worship Song (No 2)’, things get a little more interesting. Here, dusty blues meets post-trip-hop beats and ambience, but the aesthetic Khatib is pushing – gangsters, strippers, preachers, whisky etc – well, it’s like a Tarantino movie on auto-pilot. So, it’s like a Tarantino movie, basically.

A nadir is reached on ‘Mexico’, which rapidly descends into drawn-out, self-indulgent rockism, the kind of spluttering hysteria which only truly flies in the twitchy hands of Jack White. Here, it sinks like a stone. It’s also hard to escape the dread spectre of Fun Lovin’ Criminals hanging over these tracks, and the conclusion that this album is more likely to appeal to 30-something business-dudes who want something to stick on in the car than hardened, if unlucky, rebels and career criminals.

Only on final number ‘Two Brothers’ does the album properly become more than the sum of its parts, employing a disco beat and some dramatic strings to shift Khatib’s gangster shtick into a genuinely original area. Why the fuck this is the last track on record, I do not know. It’s far and away the best thing here.

If I were a younger man with a stronger constitution, I’d want to drink off my hangover with rum and coke in a subterranean bar and I’d probably want this to be the soundtrack. But since I now spend my post-piss-up days trembling under my duvet and listening to Brian Eno, it may well be I’m just not feeling Moonlight. But then, I’ve never been hit by a train either so what do I know? 

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0 out of 5 stars