The first thing you notice about the picture of The Lonely H on the rear cover is that they look too young to have been around in the 70s. You then read the accompanying notes to discover that they only graduated from high school in June 2007. One can only assume, therefore, that they've been listening to their dad's record collections, because this is an album choc-full of clever-clever Queen-like pop, with added Led Zepp-ish riffery. But whilst the 70s is known as a decade of excess, even the above artists would probably show more musical restraint than The Lonely H. And whilst I admire their ambition in trying to somehow lump their myriad of ideas together, this is a band that would definitely be better if they stopped trying to show us how bloody clever they are.
Take track four, the lengthy The Drought, for example. In its eight minutes you get the following…
A quiet gently strummed intro/verse, guitar solo, verse, piano-based "Mama I've just killed a man" type interlude, followed by the kind of guitar solo that you thought Johnny Rotten et al had consigned to history more than thirty years ago. Then there's a quiet bit with a touch of desperation in the vocals, a hard rock riff with singer Mark Fredson yelling "what you gonna do?", a rocky bit that fades away to reveal a quiet organ bit before a Deep Purple-like Child In Time riff signals yet another guitar solo before Fredson starts yelling again. Then it slows down before the band do one of those big 70s crescendo things before a quick guitar solo leads us back to the gently strummed opening.
Still with me?
Blimey. It makes Bohemian Rhapsody sound like Brown Girl In The Ring!
And whilst The Drought might be the best example (or worst culprit
depending on your musical taste), you could level the same charges against
pretty much everything here. The album opens with Just Don't Know which
is like Queen in one of their Freddie-at-the-piano moments. But you just know
that Brian May is dying to get into the action, and so it proves, although
there are some nice Beach Boys-like moments to counter this. The Meal,
meanwhile, opens like early R.E.M., which other
than the odd moment reminiscent of Muse and Ben Folds, is probably as up to
date as this album ever sounds. Unfortunately, the opening groove is spoilt
when the band get all fiddly on us. Rollin', meanwhile, features the
line "Rolling like a stone" which
is rather apt seeing as it sounds like Mick, Keef, and the guys in one of their
more country-ish moments. One of the best numbers here for my money.
After the aforementioned The Drought, you get For Barbara with
its Thin Lizzy-like duel guitar playing, and another hard rock number, Hair.
There is, however, an unlikely Talking Heads-like moment in the middle of the
latter, when the singer starts saying "you're not making no sense, it's all
nonsense" in a David Byrne-like drawl over a chanting backdrop, until the almost
obligatory pre-punk guitar solo rears its ugly head.
By the time that Captain's Beatle-ish intro fades (albeit The Beatles had they still been recording circa 1975's Golden Age of the Electric Piano!), I'm reminded of the old joke about albums by 70s bands who tried to prove how diverse they were. It went something like "and then there's the obligatory reggae number". I mention this because Captain is that obligatory reggae number. These guys really have been listening closely to their Dad's records.
After this you get All Hope with some quiet, west coast harmonies, Yeah
Yeah which has a nice, dumb, punky intro before they spoil it and slow
things down unnecessarily, and Say Your Prayers which is a Zep-like
number with Plant-ish wailing. Although quite bizarrely, in the middle of Say
Your Prayers, they start to sound like 80s UK popsters, King and their Love & Pride big
hit. The album ends as it starts, because It's Not Right has another
Freddie-at-the-piano type intro, except this time Brian, Roger, and John
or whatever their Lonely H counterparts are called, show more self-control.
All in all, a surprisingly low-key end to an album that has shown little
Still, despite some dodgy vocals here and there, The Lonely H are pretty good at what they do. They might not be my cup of tea, but they're young, and (musically at least) ambitious, so we may well be hearing more of them. Indeed, I wish them well. God only knows what they'd be like if they signed to a major and had some sort of mega studio budget to play with though…