Wearers of the we-love-Britpop rose tinted glasses may well look back and declare that the genres fundamental success was its ability to kick-start 1990s Britain out of it’s Tory heavy, acid-jazz sound tracked, humdrum. Yet my reality, and those of my similar aged friends who lived through this decade, are very different.
Britpop, if we’re honest, was made up of three decent bands; one who went on for far too long, one who morphed out of Britpop when they lost a key battle, and Suede. Laddish, uniformed, and lacking any real originality it’s sprawling impact onto society brought out some of this country’s worst traits; casual racism, drunken violence and a propensity to take ourselves far too seriously.
Just as detrimental, it also created a human barricade which chased the final remains of grunge (alongside trip-hop the only decent musical genre of the 90s) out of the country. Shame on us all.
Whilst grunge may have spent it’s final hours morphing into a drug-taking parody of what it originally stood for, at least it’s origins possessed their own original dress style and manifesto. Okay so it’s ideology may have been recycled from punk but at least it stood for something worth fighting for; a sense of community, a belief in the potential of mankind, and a desire to not letting ‘the man’ grind us down with his corporate, material, oppression.
20 years on from it’s final death toll, symbolised at the time by the rise of Bush (in both senses), it’s nice to see Grunge lift it’s head back up and head back to these shores with a new team of recruits; of which one of the best, ironically, hails from Britpop-heavy Manchester.
Opener ‘2face’ starts in a familiar vain to Nirvana’s ‘Come as you’, all strung out on an appealing underwater bass sound. But we stay here only momentarily before the track morphs into a heavy dirge sound before kicking on again with a fine, Queens of the Stone Age styled, play out. Dangerous and forceful, it’s a hell of a way to start an EP.
Recent single, ‘Laserbeam’, leads with a scuzzy, ‘Faith no more’, styled guitar riff complete with the style of slightly hypnotic vocal delivery championed by Scott Weiland and Mike Patton. An explosive, high vocal led, chorus kicks the shit out of the song and steers it towards heavy rock territory. It may be the EP’s strongest track, but certainly is the song most fully-formed.
‘Scared to live’ and ‘Midnight driving’ are both full on the floor throttle, dirty, rock. Background vocal whispers provide an interesting dimension to the tracks and reframe their context into a late night, nightmare ish, sound.
Final track ‘Show time’ is the dirtiest, sexiest, track on the EP. Reminiscent of Weiland’s time in Velvet Revolver, it’s forceful, riff heavy and full of the type of chugging guitars which make your head move.
In many ways Hungdrawn have chosen the difficult to path to walk down; musically challenging, vocal heavy, and playing a style which still swims against the cultural trend. But who cares what culture tells us to do; twenty years ago it was telling us to read Loaded and wear a parka, and we know how that ended. Great work.