Sunday, July 19, 2009

Album Review: My favourite album of 2009 (so far)

Even though The Burning Hell’s third album has been out for several months now, it was just recently that I found a record store that stocked it; Weewerk, the label that that distributes Baby, makes Arts & Crafts look like Sony BMG.

However, the old adage that good things come to those who wait rings true for my long-awaited rendezvous with this CD, the best that I have heard in a very long time. This is the masterpiece that the previous two albums from this Peterborough collective have hinted at, refining their unique formula that never grows old into a batch of songs that, if there was any justice in the world, turn them into indie darlings overnight.

The classic Burning Hell elements are all here; agoraphobic substitute history teacher Mathias Kom’s baritone voice, his lyrics of death, fear, disappointment and apocalypse, and the music which incorporates an array of influences, from twee to klezmer to chamber-pop, with occasional hints of Arabic and Romani inspiration. However, the Burning Hell have one-upped themselves by seemingly attempting to write songs for a wider audience without sacrificing their sound. The songs are cleaner and more propulsive, and Kom’s lyricism and witticisms have been pushed to new heights to the point where each song on the album is a highlight.

Whether it’s the eccentric (and vaguely kinky) role-playing of “The Things That People Make Pt. 2”, the sordid tale of love, suicide and damnation that caps of the “Grave Situations” trilogy or a newborn’s post-partum disappointment in “Old World”, each song gives the listener something to chew on (and laugh about) even after repeat listens, lyrically and melodically. There’s even a hidden track tacked on to the end of the album that cheekily critiques the pessimistic tone of the album while simultaneously rhyming “slowly”, “Holy moly” and “ravioli”. Awesome.

I may be gushing, but that’s only because I’m confident that you will too after you (hopefully) acquire this album, which you can do at the Weewerk website or from one of their legendary live shows (check their myspace page for tour dates). Meanwhile, dig the streaming audio and download below of “Precious Island”, a song with a catchy-as-sin chorus about sailors bordering on psychosis who want to run ashore so bad that they “don’t care if it’s Hamilton”.

A small-scale classic.

The Burning Hell - “Precious Island” (download)

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