I would by lying to say I wasn’t impressed with this record, mostly because it completely phased through every sort of bleak expectation I had for it. I had a few people I chat with say it was rather boring, some say it was fantastic, and for me going in blind? I really didn’t have much hopes of being blown away.
However, this album gradually grew over listens into one of the more unique albums so far this year. HMLTD, although I never heard their previous work, sound a lot more lush and ethereal than I could’ve thought to be the case based off of other reviews I read up on. The first two tracks (The West Is Dead, Loaded) had me quite worried in that regard. I didn’t care for the really haunted vocals and honestly cringe-inducing hook on Loaded. They seemed to be filler, and reminded me of some barely anthemic bullshit you hear on a sports highlight compilation, especially when I moved past them into the actual quality parts of the album.
To me, the album REALLY begins when we hit To the Door, which is the first song that is actually exciting to a degree. I love how the song progressively just becomes more and more exhilarating. It sounds like something out of a film and the energetic vocals are a perfect partner to the driving drum beat and guitars. The transitions in and out of the more electronic/sampled based production is extremely smooth as well, and the track saved me from really just turning my brain off for the rest of the album.
Immediately after we get Satan, Luella & I + Mikey’s Song which are so incredibly beautiful and well-performed vocally that it tied me in for the next 10 tracks. Something about the melody almost makes the song read to me as if it was Khalid’s American Teen record except branded more as rock and FAR more adventurous with its genre-blending attributes. Whatever it reminds me of, HMLTD pulled it off far better than anyone could have.
The album then goes into cool down mode though with Why? and 149, which aren’t bad by any means. 149 is one of the darker cuts I actually enjoy which coincides with a really sweet, rising hook from Tallulah Eden. It’s a pretty nice mix between tough and soft, which is a dynamic that HMLTD has made very apparent in their music as far as I know.
Now...after 149, the album only really continues on its stream of quality. Joanna/Where’s Joanna are two tracks that tell a fairly intriguing story. It’s a fun little bit in the album, but after those tracks and the following track, Death Drive, the album really keeps striving for new highs, Blank Slate/War is Looming are a great duo of tracks to end off with.
Overall? A pretty fantastic debut and one of the best albums I’ve heard so far in 2020, looking forward to more from them in coming years after such a dark yet beautiful album.
- Favourite Tracks -
* To the Door
* Satan, Luella & I
* Mikey’s Song
* Joanna/Where’s Joanna?
* Death Drive