*Originally published for For Folk's Sake's 'New Bands Panel' (20/3/12)
It would be an understatement to say that Hella Better Dancer's new EP, Living Room, is quite good. As the title suggests, here lie four calm and unobtrusive gems, restful in the comfort of what appears to be a very lo-fi/bedsit recording. Each track is so completely charming, provoking and infectious that you simply have to stop what you are doing and listen.
Living Room constantly swells and grows, offering sparse nooks and tinny acoustics akin to Big Deal in opener, ‘Brother’, before moving to wistful harmonies, multi-layers and a Spanish-inflected vibrato guitar at its close (‘B2’).
Dusky vocals scream teenage lust on ‘After School’, with boxed hip-hop beats and an improvisational tremolo guitar. Though, like ‘Brother’, it is maddeningly short.
Stand-out track, ‘Last Song’, is oddly evocative of Parachutes-era Coldplay, with its tender, aquatic guitar chords. The looped melody, ‘daytime is too bright’, is contagious; spinning over crackling drums, hand-clapped rhythms and melancholic accordion notes.
These deeper textures are what will really get the band noticed, but it would also be a sorry affair if they were to negate their generally unassuming and fuzzy sound. Whatever lies ahead of them, Living Room is extraordinary and I hope that others will find it equally captivating.