Burning Hank - Seriously, It's getting Us Down Now - Singles - Reviews - Soundblab

Burning Hank - Seriously, It's getting Us Down Now

by Louise Harlow Rating:6 Release Date:2010-05-17

Thinking about 'musical satire' as a concept makes me shudder a little, and I get a nasty taste in my mouth. My palms sweat, and I'm beset by nightmarish images of Jack Black pleasuring his ego and little else with the mock rock posturing of Tenacious D. So sadly, Burning Hank's first long player was never really going to be my bag.

Album opener 'Cake' is stamped with the nonchalant, tickle-your-tuppence-if-you-don't-like-it delivery typical of Adam Green, and the deliberately amateurish guitar playing which Moldy Peaches made their trademark. Which worked just fine for Green and Kimya Dawson. However, without getting into the wilful nonsense of the lyrical content, (Jaffa cakes and VAT loopholes) Burning Hank fail to provide smart enough lyrics to raise this simplicity above laziness.

The reverse problem is apparent on 'Cat Has Got Your Tongue'. Here, the most lyrically interesting content of the album- "Oh it's really not your song/ Please don't sing the lyrics/ Cat has got your tongue" - has the life stamped from it by the pounding of an uninspired rhythm section. The end product is much more successful on the best track on the album, the tender 'Worried About Coop'. A hymn to the unexpected pleasures of falling in love to daytime TV reruns, and littered with Twin Peaks' references, the yearning lyric is lifted by a subtle but affecting melodic progression. This is where Burning Hank seem to get into their stride, achieving the tragic-comic longing that Moldy Peaches perfected on 'Nothing Came Out'. (For Twin Peaks, read Superman and Thundercats)

However, this is a blip, and the rest of the album plays fairly close to being a farce, with 'Mostly Pointless' (about animal testing on abducted pets) and 'Modern Medicine' (written for a 30 second song-writing contest) playing like comedy skits rather than songs. Things don't really improve with the anti-employment rally of 'Get a Job'. This is already well-trodden territory covered by bands like The Rakes with far more lyrical bite. Crucially, The Rakes took fears of the mundanity of life ('Work Work Work') and entry level wage (' 22 Grand Job'), strapped them atop slick, smart post-punk guitars, and reworked the misery into an infectious homage to the weekend bender. Sadly, 'Get a Job' is frankly just depressing.

The whole album gives the impression that Burning Hank are much better than this, and they know it. The band is clearly not a talent-vacuum, so why hide behind a novelty concept? They can't match the knowing parody of Flight of the Conchords, so it's time for Burning Hank to play it straight.

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