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AAA Music | 24 April 2024

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| On 14, Mar 2014


House of Hats, a relatively new band (they’ve only been performing together since 2012) are due to release their debut album, This Love, later on this month. The album is beautifully crafted; very easy on the ears but with depth too. The harmonies are a rather striking aspect of their songs – always in tune and used to embellish some lovely melodies. The title track, ‘This Love’, occurs twice on the album in two different versions; at the beginning and end which gives This Love the rounded, journey-like characteristic of a well written story. The first version is much more upbeat and has a lot of forward motion. Perhaps this is due to the rippling guitar line or the fullness of the harmonies and the general wash of sounds. The second time it appears, it is a complete contrast; a very still accompaniment on piano and just Noddy, the female vocalist and instrumentalist singing. Maybe it is a way to draw the journey to an end? (For now…)

The production by Pete Smith is very clean and polished, which gives the effect of a coat of varnish over the slightly grittier numbers (‘Joanne’, ‘Wonderland’, ‘No Man’). This may well be to some people’s taste, but perhaps it would be nice to have some contrast within the album? However, it is a really smooth production and is pleasant on the ears.

This Love conjures to mind many images; camp fires and sing-alongs, thoughtful reflections on life, pleas to people who have been hurt, bluesy heated songs and French cafes! The juxtaposition of female/male vocals is a really nice theme throughout; sometimes it is a male voice (Alex), sometimes female (Noddy) and sometimes together in call and response or harmony. The setup is simple and depending on the song it includes vocals, percussion, bass, guitar, banjo, violin and keyboard. Ray Lamontagne, Johnny Cash and Gillian Welch have all been named checked by House of Hats as influences.

Recently one of their songs, ‘Across the Universe’, was used on a short film ‘Common People’ which appeared at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. The band also went on tour in the Netherlands at the end of last year where they performed with Will and The People and a five week tour has been booked throughout the UK to promote the new album. It is well worth a listen!

Heather Ryall