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Left by Hope of the States

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Reviewed on 14th June 2006.



By Hope of the States

As far as unsung classics goes, debut Hope of the States album 'The Lost Riots' has got to be up there with the most frustratingly unrecognised genius releases of the past decade. It had everything. The soaring highs, the sickening lows, the scintillating attacks of guitar led ferociousness and choruses and insightful lyrics to match the best in Brit rock. But a stunted release schedule interrupted by the more-publicised-than-the-actual-record suicide of guitarist Jimmi Lawrence afforded an eerily muted response to the aforementioned album and an atmosphere as if 'Left' is somewhat of a blank slate and Hope of the States are a brand new band.

If that was the case, 'Left' is a brilliant, professionally produced, accomplished body of work. But knowing what HOTS accomplished first time around, you'd be forgiven for thinking 'Left' could have been so much more.

That's not to say 'Left' isn't a great album but the aspects of 'The Lost Riots' that made it so very special are neither expanded on, or in fact even matched in the most part. The key example of this is atmospheric opener 'Seconds'. A solely instrumental piece that runs in parallel to 'The Lost Riots' breathtaking opening shot 'The Black Amnesias'. But where 'The Black Amnesias' built and built and built again until it opened into a storming merciless assault on the earlobes, 'Seconds' meanders about a bit, thinks about imploding, has a cup of tea, and then resigns itself to playing mild mannered opening to the following track.

Maybe that is a little unfair, and by opening like this, Hope of the States were purposefully trying to avoid the comparisons, but in the end they've finished neither here nor there, as there's no denying the instrumental openings are similar but with the former having much, much more of an initial impact.

That just about sums up the record, almost but not quite reaching the heights of 'The Lost Riots' but without a doubt being a much more sustained, reliable piece of business.

There isn't a weak point, but there aren't any nailed on classics either. Highlights lie in the form of 'The Good Fight', 'January' and the most poppy single they've penned since 'Neremiah' - 'Blood Meridian'. Capping it off though comes the most beautifully delivered, poetic statement of "I am in love with the chance that we all could do better than we do/ the lonely and broken/ the people forgotten/ let nobody tell you that your heart is wrong" on the swirling 'Little Silver Birds'.

Vocalist Sam Herlihy may garner some unnecessary abuse for his gruff vocals but his voice is very much an unpolished diamond. When it soars above the rest of the bands musicianship and on the occasional acapella moments, it really is a unique, stunning, resounding delivery.

On the lyric side of things, there's nothing as politically volatile or savvy as on older songs such as 'The Red, The White, The Black, The Blue' but it comes close with the self explanatory 'Industry' and the social comment of "Emergency, emergency/ someone acted honestly" on the high octane chorus of 'Blood Meridian'. The rest is refreshingly personal. None more so, than on 'January' with an emotion wrought, near bursting into tears, cry of "I fell apart in January / but I fixed myself for everybody / I know tomorrow will be better / without you all / I don't know where I'd be".

'Left' is almost but not quite a brilliant album. The added dose of uniqueness is not quite there. 'Left' just doesn't stand out from the pack. It's more consistently listenable than their previous album but lacks the depth and subtlety to make Hope of the States stand out from the now masses of other darkwave indie types. Create a hybrid of the first and second and Hope of the States will be on to a winner. But for now, there's still a longing feeling to fall in love with 'The Lost Riots' all over again.



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On 27th June 2006 at 12:38 Anonymous 5774 wrote...

I agree totally with this review in every sense.
Lost Riots!!!



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