Contextually HTRK‘s 3rd LP is as grey as the numerous high-rise monoliths that litter the British urban landscape, like those desolate 1960’s concrete shells that were supposed to point to the future, HTRK draw us into a world of struggle, loss and love.
Right from album opener ‘Give It Up’ the stage is set with a template of despairingly claustrophobic atmospherics threatening to overwhelm but for the small thread of hope that smoulders within. Booming cavernous drums underpin a mournful vocal whilst spectral drums try to evade your every advance.
‘Blue Sunshine’ attempts to pierce the gathering gloom as shards of synth initially sparkle into life before being rapidly dragged beneath the murky waters of sorrow. With ‘Feels Like Love’ there is barely a heart beat as the sense of love lost and a life spent chain smoking through daytime TV is the prevailing sentiment, with languid synths sending wistful wisps of memory through a wash of departing pads and sedated clicks and pops. With all this weight of time lost and retrospection ‘Psychic 9-5’ can be a troubling listen for those already kicking their heals at life’s complexities and often inexplicable pain. However for the more solid among you 9-5 will come as welcoming change of pace; a reminder that not the whole world is shaking its booty to the latest bling ridden hollow pop tune.
As we enter the second half of the album ‘Soul Sleep’ gently clatters into view with reverberating snares bouncing off some of the brighter synth work on the LP, however its not long before the principle theme claims back lost ground with its unstoppable tide of melancholy. ‘Wet Dream’ maintains this paralysing fear of inevitability as the now marooned soul accepts that dreams are not reality as the haunted voice intones the words ‘Im in love with myself’.
The albums drowsy blanket of yearning shows no sign of lifting as ‘Love is Distraction’ simpers into view. Hollow toms thud from afar whilst tortured synths swirl like a thinly veiled woodland mist. ‘Chinatown Style’ relatively speaking breaks the eery desolation of whats gone before with its sublayer hypnotically buzzing in the background whilst yet more brittle percussion dominate the extremities whilst the now familiar tortured cry holds your attention.
Drawing things to a close with ‘The Body You Deserve’ we are left in no doubt that HTRK have cathartically poured out their souls into this record making it an engaging and rewarding listen for those of a strong disposition. For the faint of heart check last weeks review ‘Todd Terje – Its Album Time‘……