Express & Star

HMLTD, West Of Eden - album review

HMLTD were, went away, and came back again to put together a 15-track debut record that studies the concept of masculinity, male violence, dominance and repression, as well as the trappings and failings of Western capitalism.

The album artwork for HMLTD's West Of Eden

Light-hearted it is not.

Actually, it's not abundantly clear what it is at all. Decadent instrumentals, self-indulgent stops and starts and frustrating changes in direction are shoved together with wild abandon.

It gets full marks for creativity and being unique. It's more an art installation than a music album, and the best of luck to these guys in achieving their goals because as frontman Henry Spychalski says, the record is meant to "incite conversation about proposed new visions of masculinity". It is a conversation that very much should be had, and this five-piece could be the champions of that.

But in terms of an album of music, the intricate moments of joy such as the jangling melody throughout Satan, Luella & I or the jilted guitars of Where's Joanna? are short-lived and shoved in between more experimental sections that keep resetting the concentration button and you as the listener forget where you are, what just happened and what the previous song was about.


It's not music to get lost in or relax you, and many won't like that.

There's spaced out, distorted tracks like MMXX A.D. that while incorporating some of the chilled out greatness of Sunday morning electro music, can feel a little dreary and overly long. The acoustic Western vibes of The Ballad Of Calamity James build up a nice wall of sound with its vast landscape that evokes images of wide, dusty plains. But then the frantic To The Door, which flips back and for between The Coral-esque country-blues-rock and deep, thumping electronic bass sections clashes wickedly.

It's like damaging the good work that's just been done and leaving the listener confused and questioning.

There's also the 80s spaced out sounds of Mikey's Song. One of the stronger individual tracks on the album with its open and hopeful chorus full of electro blips, it again stands out too much from everything around it.

It's dazed and confused. And this boxer, out via Lucky Number, never quite makes it back up off the canvas after being downed.

Rating: 2/10

HMLTD play Birmingham's The Sunflower Lounge on February 16