By now, there are certain expectations that arise when a band’s vocalist steps aside from their main project to pursue a solo effort in tandem. Usually they tend to be a bit more stripped back and personal in a way that reflects their existence as a separate entity, but generally at least have a thread or two connecting them back to their main project sonically. And yet, that doesn’t seem to be the case based on what Lande Hekt has released up to now in the run-up to her debut solo EP Gigantic Disappointment. It can certainly be argued that a lot of more personal songwriting elements can and have been incorporated into her work fronting Muncie Girls, and thus, when the pre-release tracks have so far exhibited a brand of indie-rock that isn’t that different, it can be difficult to see what the overall aim here is. The connections have already been forged, but even based on a handful of songs, there doesn’t seem to be much that deviates from what’s already been laid down.
And that’s really how Gigantic Disappointment comes across as a whole. In terms of how it’s executed, it’s probably most reminiscent of Brian Fallon’s solo work, in that it’s definitely a solid effort that’s likable, but as far as differentiating itself from its creator’s main band, there isn’t enough that’s been done for it to really stand out. That’s not to say that it doesn’t deserve to exist, but the Muncie Girls DNA continues to run heavily through this set of tracks, both in instrumentation and writing, and that can be difficult to overlook when attempting to view this as a worthwhile endeavour as a solo project. It’s not bad, but at the same time, there’s not enough being done to give this its own sense of individuality that projects like this so desperately need.
Even despite that though, it’s hard to deny that, at its core, Gigantic Disappointment does fulfill the typical requirements of a solo release like this, namely in a lyrical bent that embraces Hekt’s own personal worries and struggles and suitably lays them bare. She explores the difficulties of her own anxieties and trusting nature that’s taken advantage of by others on Aeroplane and Carpet respectively, and how it’s all exacerbated by frequently precarious political and climatological situations across the globe on The Future, despite her best efforts to cut away vices and negativity to end up in a better place mentally. The atmosphere is certainly one of sighing frustration borne from effort that hasn’t come to fruition, and Hekt’s very down-to-earth delivery can sell such an emotion really well in the area that benefits the most from this being a solo release. It feels more intimate even if the raw content isn’t a million miles away from what’s typically in Hekt’s wheelhouse, and that alone gives Gigantic Disappointment a bit of extra weight that it does use well.
As for the instrumentation, it’s easy enough to give Hekt the benefit of the doubt here, as it’s easy to see where a more stripped-back sense of intimacy has been touched on. Wake Up and Letter might be the two shortest tracks here, but their rooting in solemn acoustics and passed through an equally downbeat, almost downtrodden sense of atmosphere both accomplishes enough compositionally to be extrapolated further, and carries a distinction in sound that could achieve a lot more. Sadly that isn’t the case though, as Gigantic Disappointment primarily sticks on the route of mid-tempo indie-rock that Hekt is undoubtedly proficient in, but doesn’t have the same spark or character as it would if given a full Muncie Girls treatment. There might be the odd tone that’s a bit different like the louder bass on Aeroplane, but even that’s not really a standout factor, and it doesn’t distract from the fact that the avenues that have been explored are unmistakably shallow. It’s fine for what it is, but the lack of change can lead to these tracks feeling more like Muncie Girls castoffs than anything looking for forge their own place as an individual entity.
That might sound like an overemphasised nitpick, especially when in isolation there’s nothing too glaringly terrible about Gigantic Disappointment, but it can’t be ignored how difficult of a task crawling from out of Muncie Girls’ shadow is, and that makes it all the harder to judge in a vacuum. For fans looking for more music, it’ll more than likely satisfy, but as a solo project and when viewed in those realms, there’s more that could’ve be done that would’ve made this more than just a solid listen. It’s a decent slice of indie-rock on the whole, and not quite as bad as its title suggests, but when the potential for more is so obvious, it’s not like that disappointment isn’t there at all.
For fans of: Muncie Girls, Sleater-Kinney, Great Cynics
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Gigantic Disappointment’ by Lande Hekt is released on 15th November.