Who said emo couldn't be colourful?
Hooray for Humans are best described by their name, and by the list of influences on their Myspace page which is as follows:
"The Anniversary, Robocop Kraus, Fugazi, Mates Of State, Lali Puna, Braid, Why?, Supersystem, Les Savy Fav, Q And Not U, Think About Life, Daniel Johnston, The Notwist, Paul Simon, American Football, My Bloody Valentine, Small Brown Bike, CFTPA, Subtle, Dismemberment Plan, M83, Stereolab, The Get Up Kids, Mercury Program, Matthew Dear, Hot Cross, Dosh, La Quiete, Dischord Records, lots of other amazing stuff"
How can you get better than that? Dischord Records in their entirety as an influence; and I actually see new bands that I like every time I look at the list again - for example, the Mercury Program, which I didn't notice before and who are one of my favourite post-rock acts; as well as particular key touchstones such as Q and not U, MBV and La Quiete.
Of course, the band has to actually put these influences into practice, but happily they do this quite well. The sound is somewhere between quality electro-emo-indie, La Quiete sans screamo, and Q and not U exuberance. Like the name suggests, Hooray for Humans are 'splendidly upbeat', and infectiously indie-pop.
Safekeeping is their CD album from 2006, and one of the best Irish releases that I got around to buying last year. So I've been sitting on this for a while, waiting for their blue vinyl 7" to come out (it was due in March, but was held back for a while due to line-up problems in the band I think). It was well worth the wait, however, because for the reasonable sum of €5.50 you get two quality tracks, limited edition coloured vinyl (always a good thing!) and some totally amazing artwork by Cork artist Marianne Keating.
(I especially like how they have kept the pink/blue colour scheme of the previous album; consistency is always good in album artwork)
(front, back and inside; click to resize)
After about the tenth time listening to it, I'm realising just how sweet the intro to 'Already Sleeping' is. It works best after listening to No Kill Beep Beep for the umpteenth time. That's not to say that it doesn't sound different, but there's a spiritual connection in the sound.
There's a strong electro feel to the track, with the beats and electric handclaps, but it works as a straightforward indie song too. Add to that the subtle Dan Deacon-like synth explosion towards the end (I'm not sure if they use analogue equipment if he does, but I sure do like a bit of the electro-acoustic sound) and indie-emo gets, if nothing else, a neat little encapsulation. The b-side, 'Hidden Hands' opens with more of a wall-of-sound style - think La Quiete more than Q and not U - and then follows up with a short Epit-phat guitar squiggle (if you've ever listened to late-90s punk you'll know what I mean), and repeat. Later in the song, the male/female vocals really start aping Ham Sandwich, but that's not a bad thing either.
If the 7" has taken a little while to register in my head, it's not to say that it doesn't sound really good. But I've added two of the best and most immediate of the tracks from Safekeeping for good measure. That album is very strong, keeping up its energy and containing in it some absolute moments of emotive bliss. The sound of the 7" is a little more subtle, not too different in composition or style from the album but still requiring the latter I think to fill it out.
Album opener 'Signature' is energetic, fuzzy punk-pop, combining shout-along vocals with harmonies and a driving rhythm section. Radio single '06 Forever', which introduced me to the band, flips the punk-pop guitar with a lengthy, dance-style intro (complete with whistles!) and just boils over with energy, passion and youth. It may not scream your head off - it's considerably sweeter than that - but it'll definitely get you moving.
- Already Sleeping 7":
1. 'Already Sleeping' b/w 'Hidden Hands' (one file)
- Safekeeping CD
5. '06 Forever