Amelia’s Magazine | The Hot Puppies

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Blue Hands is the Welsh quintets follow up to Under the Crooked Moon and marks the departure point both in sound and inspiration. Showcasing an array of influences from just about every source, David Bowie, Neil Young, Kraftwerk and Edith Piaf are all apparently present, as is the Old Testament! Even Hollywood actress’ of the silent movie era are drawn upon. Orphans of The Storm tells the story of the silent actress Lillian Gish’s near death experience filming the movie of the same name.

But, there is something about this showcase of influences that doesn’t quite ring true and sounds more like PR spiel. Is citing the aforementioned Miss Gish and John the Baptist really evidence of ‘Hollywood Reporter meets the Old Testament’. In some instances, references seem to be thrown in for no particular reason, on King of England the serial killer Son of Sam is name checked right next to Fred Astaire.

At least, The Hot Puppies are not playing it safe and have tried to experiment, even if the results are not always successful. In the alleged Kraftwerk influenced, How To Choose a Wife synthesizers have indeed been used, but the end result is confused, and sounding in places like a programmed demo on a Casio keyboard. Again, on King of England it feels like the same Casio keyboard has been dragged out and just left to play. However, the experimenting does pay off on the seemingly two separate sounding songs that make up Secret Burial.

The most successful tracks appear where singer Becki Newman is allowed to showcase her yearning vocals without the addition of synthesizers. On Dear Brutus Newman is initially accompanied on pianos and it seems like The Hot Puppies have found their niche, but then the synthesizer comes in and competes for attention. Elsewhere, Newman’s voice soars on Somewhere, sizzles on Where the Werewolves Meet, and is powerfully heartbreaking on Blue Hands, the strongest track of the album. Other nice moments on the album are provided by the sing-a-long catchy chorus Disney would be proud of, on Clarinet Town and Orphans of the Storm showcasing the whispered subdued lead vocals of Luke Taylor.

With their burgeoning ability to straddle genres, The Hot Puppies could have music critics eating out of the palms of their hands. But, it seems they can’t decide whether they want to record ballad quality songs or live out all their synthesizer fantasies. So, The Hot Puppies have settled for doing it all and therefore suffer the consequences.

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