Exorcism Of Youth
The last you probably heard from The View was when they got into a fight onstage in Manchester in May. Before that…dunno, when Kyle Falconer did a song with Mark Ronson and Spank Rock in 2010? The point is, they’ve done very little of note in a fair while, which is far from remarkable for a couple-hit-wonder indie band from the 2000s. And just like the ill-fated (and ill-advised) return of The Pigeon Detectives only a few weeks ago, the immediate reaction is to expect something similar here, seeing as Exorcism Of Youth comes eight years after their last album, with a five-year hiatus in between. Except it’s actually not bad at all; there’s some solid stuff here, albeit in a way that doesn’t inspire much material to talk about.
That’s generally because—as is standard, once again—there’s no enormous overhaul to speak of here. They still largely have the same jeans on that they did circa 2007, but retaining some spryness that plenty of like bands seem all too keen to abandon. That in itself does quite a bit, how barring Neon Lights, Exorcism Of Youth is surprisingly vacant of stodgy middle-aged-man indie. The tone is a lot brighter, as established early on from Feels Like or The Wonder Of It All, and not entirely absent of variety either, shown in the Celtic-flavoured knees-up of Arctic Sun and the dancing, misty indie-pop of Dixie.
That said, the album’s very end does see The View go too far off-piste with Footprints In The Sand and Tangled, a pair of awkward saunters last minute into a lumpen electro-pop heat haze that wraps things up on the absolute worst note. Though, in what’s often been the default choice for indie bands at this point staging some kind of resurgence, it’s at least noteworthy that The View relegate their particular impulses for it right at the back. Compared to Allergic To Mornings and Black Mirror—another twosome indulging in an older, more refined brand of composition—there’s much greater success, with a swirling earnestness that justifies them as a pair of album centrepieces. And although the production overall is nothing to write home about, it does bring out some surprisingly good vocal harmonies that bump things up just that bit further.
Perhaps, then, it’s simply the pile-up of individual factors that makes Exorcism Of Youth feel slightly better than it probably is. It’s still rather by-the-books in almost every sense, but the exuberance that The View give off can’t really be ignored or dampened. And honestly, that’s enough for an album like this. It’s where plenty of similar-level indie bands fail, unable to sound even remotely enthused to be doing the thing that got them to this point; The View, meanwhile, actually sound like they’re enjoying themselves. Quite a low bar, granted, but it’s been fixed in place long enough to be the norm, and credit should be given for clearing it as emphatically as The View do here.
For fans of: The Libertines, Courteeners, The Enemy
‘Exorcism Of Youth’ by The View is released on 18th August on Cooking Vinyl.
So, it’s probably not entirely helpful that Babymetal have become the yardstick to which all Japanese rock bands seem to be compared to, right? Especially the many predominantly female bands, and while it’s true that a decent portion will come out of the same idol cultures, trying to crowbar a spurious likeness into every single new one isn’t helpful. At least with HANABIE, there’s sort of a concession in the wild, pop-inflicted swings that seemingly have no upper limit. Instead though, they bear more in common with other countrypeople Crossfaith or Paledusk, and the gonzo-metalcore flurries that distil that wildness to its absolute essence.
Naturally though, the kawaii angle isn’t gone (if the artwork wasn’t an indication), and while not exactly blended, the dichotomy plays in an inexplicably complementary way. Alright, maybe ‘inexplicably’ is a bit of a misdirect; HANABIE have got a melodic instinct to die for, regardless of how and where it smashes through. You’ll largely find that’s courtesy of some J-pop sweetness that gives these hooks some real punch, but the grand tradition of Japanese metal striving to be as ostentatious and space-filling as possible would never stop there. Thus, there’s the third, more electronically-influenced side to it all, to where Be The GAL -Early Summer version- dips headfirst into EDM, or ME, The Ultimate Invader Of The Universe pulls liberally from trance and hyperpop. All the while, HANABIE carry themselves with real style exuberance, and a general avoidance of most truly telegraphed gimmickry. It’s like this because it’s cool and fun, not because it’s been railroaded in place.
It also just makes the overall metalcore feel—one often characterised by clinical formula and immovability—that much more enjoyable. That tends to be the case in more genre-inclusive acts as the looseness and elasticity seeps through, and HANABIE are no different. The J-rock pace of Hyperdimension Galaxy or Warning!! is inevitable, bounding by as the edges fizz and crackle from the mere presence of actual colour in this production. Even Tales Of Villain, as what would be the more ‘standard’ metalcore offering overall, just feels a bit more lively, both from the electronic glitches woven through and the added buoyancy that such a clean, bright hook offers. It’s become a staple of these kinds of bands now, but it’s always great to hear sold with this much gusto. Plus, Yukina has some genuine range as a screamer, for anyone who might doubt HANABIE’s ‘legitimacy’; they’ve got way more going on in their favour than vast swathes of metalcore acts comfortable to morph into each other before long.
And yes, that is more or less a kneejerk reaction rather than some deep exploration of what’s going on here. Unless you speak Japanese, the majority of any lyrical nuance will be lost, and the English fragments don’t do much to assuage that (as evidenced by a song title like Today’s Good Day & So Epic). But as anyone who’s even remotely familiar with J-metal will attest, that’s entirely not the point. It’s all about the excess and the bluster, and the verve of everything that HANABIE seek to fill every corner of empty space with. On those merits, Reborn Superstar! effectively never misses, as HANABIE’s jolt of pink lightning strikes in some major ways. It’s worth the listen alone to hear a new band so comfortable in their own audacity.
For fans of: Crossfaith, Paledusk, Broken By The Scream
‘Superstar Reborn!’ by HANABIE is out now digitally on Sony Music. It is released physically on 11th August.
Books On Tape
Bad Luck. were really teed up to fly, y’know. They had a strong debut full-length in summer 2021, ready to intercept the pop-punk resurgence that was still in full swing…and were subsequently missed by all of it. Now with the benefit of hindsight, we’re well aware that wave had no interest in platforming anyone who wasn’t an opportunist influencer or genre defector, ultimately leaving Bad Luck. in stasis within the indie scene ever since. Not that that’s inherently a bad thing, but when the chance to really flourish is cut back as mercilessly as it was, it’s still kind of a shame.
And Bad Luck. are still good too, in the vein of pop-punk and 2000s emo that isn’t shy about leaving its DIY edges intact. Their new EP Books On Tape mightn’t redefine that but it certainly reinforces it, on five tracks that are still up there in terms of how far this band can go. For one, these are some utterly insatiable hooks that Bad Luck. have got here, as the pop-rock gears turn to reflect pop-rock exuberance and modern alt-punk sensibility on Turn It Off or In Retrospect. Moving down to the breezier Detour (Scenic Route) and the swaying build from humble foundations on the title track, the beats are familiar but never stale. It’s the handy application of nostalgia in the right spots that sharpens Books On Tape up, without being reliant on nothing but it.
To be fair though, it is a fair component, and likely deliberately so, at that. Dominick Fox definitely has the voice to imply as much, in its own tangy timbre mixed with the curls and enunciations of many an emo frontman (most notably on Turn It Off as effectively one of the first sounds the EP produces). That’s an observation rather than a reprimanding, though; it feels very authentic to what Bad Luck. are striving for, in music typically infused with a brightness regardless of the anguish it packs in its lyrics. In terms of balance, Books On Tape gets it frequently right, where there’s never an outright low point among its five tracks. It’s sharp and snappy enough to where that’s never an issue, fizzing with anthemia and big-hearted bluster that stands as the primary touchstone when it’s over.
It’s just a generally good listen on all fronts, as a sampler of Bad Luck.’s alignment before (hopefully) more comes. Like any sampler, it’s not exactly filling on its own, though that’s hardly something to gripe about. Effectively, it’s a snap back into focus after a couple of years that didn’t pan out as they probably should, and on those merits, them being on even footing still is a lovely sight. Plus, it’s so naturally easy to like this, as it is with most pop-punk flagrantly drawing from the 2000s era. The full potential to go supernova hasn’t been lost yet; clearly, Bad Luck. are just gearing up for a second round.
For fans of: Hot Mulligan, Origami Angel, The Wonder Years
‘Books On Tape’ by Bad Luck. is released on 11th August on Take This To Heart Records.
Black Radical Love
Peppered throughout Move BHC’s Black Radical Love are soundbites in which different individuals interpret what that titular ideal means to them. There’s definitely a poignancy there, particularly as the influx of black voices in punk and hardcore as of late has platformed a spirit of revolution and actualisation that those styles were initially founded upon. On top of that though, it’s just cool to see, as Move BHC feel so wired into what makes this music great. And yeah, Black Radical Love is pretty great, as both an incendiary mission statement and a pure, fat-free hardcore slammer.
In that sense then, Move BHC might come across as slightly less—for lack of a better term—radical than others they’ll inevitably be grouped with. This isn’t as deconstructive of the medium as you’d get from a Soul Glo or a ZULU, but the quick-and-easy approach is just as valid here. Embedded in its punk-informed gallop, Black Radical Love isn’t wanting for impact at all. Opener Double Death establishes that from the jump, as well as the formula of tight, pronounced grooves and a wiry vocal from Corey Charpentier that’s exceptionally cutting. It’s also just more filling than a stream of sub-minute blitzes even if the aggro doesn’t boil over quite as much, a deliberate, planned bludgeoning instead of the product of going feral and seeing what bruises it can leave.
But in a way, that’s about right for an album striving for the universality that Black Radical Love is. In speaking to the black experience—both celebrating it, and taking down those who wish to deny it—the increased sense of scope is beneficial, particularly when nothing is diluted as a result. And there’s still anger here, at black capitalists who’ll forgo their roots and communities for profit on Trojan Horse, or ‘allies’ who’ll only engage with Black Lives Matter when it’s convenient and lucrative for them on Summer Trend. But there’s also the tenacity to smash through it, in calls to mobilise on For All Not One and Comrade that are suitably superpowered in tandem. There’s seldom a moment where Move BHC don’t feel, again, radical, even on the mid-album standout Ode To The Pit as a more direct, straightforward mosh anthem.
Even with the glut of hardcore vying for the faintest sniff of attention this year, Black Radical Love still feels like a worthwhile inclusion. To be fair, very few of them haven’t, which says a lot about the genre’s rude health that’s only becoming more and more apparent. In the case of Move BHC, they’re only helping to propagate that notion, coming in at a slightly different angle but still leaving some serious marks on the way down. And from the sound to the execution to the messaging, Black Radical Love barely makes a wrong move.
For fans of: Turnstile, Buggin, Drug Church
‘Black Radical Love’ by Move BHC is released on 11th August on Trimble B Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall