Nostalgia can be an interesting phenomenon. While to some extent all things are derivative, the value of wholly derivative art is often (and quite understandably) criticised. Originality and innovation are obviously wonderful traits to find in any art form, but there is something to be said for imitation and amalgamation of styles if it’s done right. Sunderland drummers-turned-songwriters Hyde & Beast are a shining example of how replication can be first-rate.
Debut album Slow Down was a competent assimilation of all things late 60’s & 70’s rock, and the second contribution Keep Moving continues this trend with confidence. The overall sentiment is one of hopefulness and reminiscence; the opener ‘Open Your Heart’ is a reflective bundle of soft piano and vocal flourishes, but even the sadder songs on the album bubble with an underlying optimism.
‘Like I’m Grass’ follows this outline obediently, it has a slower paced Devendra Banhart-ish quality that is broken by a few bursts of brass and cleaving solos; it is endearing to the point where it becomes one of the strongest tracks found here.
Title track ‘Keep Moving’ and single ‘Blue’ are both about as ‘T-Rex’ influenced as it’s possible to get without donning a Bolan style curly wig. These songs are solid homage, the guitar work is flawless and there is a certain amiable groove, but these are definitely not the best the album has to offer; it would be disappointing if potential fans were put off investigating other more well structured parts of the album based around these two tracks leading the charge.
This being said, you don’t have to look too far ahead on the record for an example of this Bolan-fixation being done justice. ‘Train to Nowhere’ is a brilliant flurry of multi-layered and varied instrumentation that has a seizing, relentlessly building hook, another clever little addition is the drums briefly imitating the noise of a train rolling along a track; it’s a charming indication of the over-arching whimsical nature of the music.
Another noteworthy facet has got to be closing track ‘Ba Ba Ba’, the harmonies and method reek of The Beatles’ final years but the real magic happens when the string section comes into play. The violins give the chorus a real emotive kick that shakes off the whimsy and gets all teary-eyed and pensive. The band often tour with a nine-piece mishmash of horns and strings and fans will surely be awestruck when such rich and full sounds as this are explored.
As a whole construct the album is largely wonderfully uplifting and charismatic, despite lacking any real contemporary or ground-breaking ideas. Keep Moving is a real treat for most or an absolute necessity for anyone with a 70s rock fixation.
Keep Moving is out now via Drawingboard.