Album Review: Hot Fiction
Album: Dark Room
Artist: Hot Fiction
Release Date: June 7th, 2010
UK two-piece garage rockers Hot Fiction released their crunching, lo-fi debut album ‘Dark Room’ today, which, whilst sparse in instrumentation, is rich in riffage and chock full of bluesy soul. Comprised of school friends Andy Yeoh (vocals and drums) and Simon Miller (guitar), Hot Fiction’s sound paints a picture of two lads who, upon discovering their dads’ record collections, fell in love with the great masters of rock and roll and made it their lives’ ambitions to build upon that legacy. There are flickers and glimmers all over their music that point towards their influences, from classic rock and blues as well as the more contemporary heralds of back-to-basics lo-fi rock, but none so much that they come off as easily pigeon-holed. Some might delight in reeling off a comprehensive list here of those influential flickers and glimmers, but not me – I’d rather leave the comparisons up to you, dear reader, when you listen to the record, that’s much more fun.
The album kicks off with an a cappella wail that sounds borne of the banks of the Mississippi, then settles into the steady, fuzzed up groove of Start it Off; this track sets the tone for the rest of the record – sparse, riff-orientated, heavily punctuated rock that’s steeped in blues, with a modern edge that sets it off down a road of its own. From there, the record undulates through fields of upbeat 12-bar blues jams (My Girl Dances), dark and slightly sinister down-tempo grooves (All My Love in Vain), riffs that make you want to strut you way down the street (I Just Want Your Body), driving rock and roll (Truly Dark), and ends with a shockingly catchy number, considering how musically scant the track is, in the form of Creepy Disco – it will keep spinning in your head like a stuck vinyl for days. And in between all them lay many more delights to find for yourself.
All of this is overseen by Yeoh’s raspy, fuzzy vocals, which nestle in the songs next to the guitar like a third instrument, and are dripping with vaguely melancholic cool. Yeoh and Miller create an interesting sound for a two-piece, getting driving rhythms and distorted licks fully down and locked, and although I usually have issues with singing drummers (see: Phil Collins), these lads have nothing to worry about as they definitely pull it off.
One thing that shines through from this album is how well Hot Fiction’s songs would transfer to a live setting; the rough-edged recording does do justice to the DIY feel of the band, but I can’t help feeling that I need to hear these tunes in a scummy pub’s back room where my feet stick to the floor. In that vein, keep an eye on their website as they’re playing the hell out of London and a few others over the next few months.
Dark Room is imbued with just the right kind of nostalgia that will have you reaching fondly for your old LPs after listening, but not before a thoroughly enjoyable listen to a record that is in equal parts an homage to the band’s heroes, and a rough and ready, fresh take on garage rock.