Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Fast, Cheap and Out of Cigarettes.

On opening Fast, Cheap & Out of Control, the first thing that strikes you is the Marlborough fag which is inserted into the (inaccessible) spine of the jewel case. I am instantly sold by this. Yes, despite the cheap-shot potential, it makes you instantly feel there is something tangible and personal about the album. It says, from the outset, that this is an album with an ART agenda, united by concept ( a naughty word it seems, but here used justifiably, more borrowed from visual art than from the darker moments of experimental pop history) and not just the creative subconsciousness of the artiste. .

Putting on the CD you whisk through catchy pop in a dizzying array of forms, from high couture diva pop to sleazy art school e-clash, somewhere via 80s stadium rock, early Bowie and Kraftwerk.

Overall, the tunes achieve catchy pop heights with consistent skill. Some miss the mark, but there is enough variation, and enough hooks, to keep you listening to the end. This really is Pop Art, taken to its logical future, which is certainly an exciting prospect. The problem is, in deciding to make a statement with her album, she seems to have missed the real sense of excitement that seeps from good music. It is technically strong music; but, with the very good, though uber-slick production of the pure synth pop, it ends up sounding like she is singing over karaoke backing tracks, dreamt up by a ‘noughties’ Warhol if he hadn’t let the Velvets (or the modern equivalent) do it for him. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just not a great thing.

There is no doubting the quality of her voice though. This, alongside an excellent, wacky style, makes her a more than worthy proponent of this concept. I can’t help but feel, though, that the album comes across too frequently as an over-serious ‘statement’, when it might want to be exclusively playful e-clash, art-school pout.

That said the track posted below is rapidly elbowing its way into my head. I’ve found myself playing it a couple of times in a row, a few times now. Maybe the whole album will burrow its way into my pop lobes, and stay there, no doubt an intention of HK119.

Given the diversity of the music and the bold intention of using progressive pop music, and its conventions – the creation of ideology/mystique/populism – to comment on modern life, this album has a lot to offer, and is definitely one to check out for yourself. I’m just unsure at the moment whether it will emerge as a musical winner. And if I grow to dislike it I can always crack open the case for an emergency fag.

HK119 - Mind

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