Hope of the States - The Lost Riots
Reviewed by Andreas on 24th June 2004
While the record-buying public are purchasing the latest, whiny album from Keane (overrated, and quite frankly, crap), go to Glasto to enjoy drugs (idiots) and in general sit around doing nothing, there is vast talent to be found on records. Hope of the States is a band you should, by all rights, love. "The Lost Riots" is their debut album. And oh, what an album.
"It's about being angry at society", HOTS-frontman Sam Herlihy told Q Magazine in May. And angry "The lost riots" is. It's vaguely political, it's soaked in violins and is seemingly reliant on post-rock soundscapes and epic scope. As most of you will probably have heard already, their guitarist hung himself in the studio as well. Keeping that in mind makes you, if nothing else, pay more attention to the lead guitar. Thankfully, the man was a hell of a guitarist. There's no doubt that he will be remembered, not least for his efforts on this album.
From opening track "The Black Amnesias", it is clear that the listener is in for something special. Compulsory comparison to Radiohead (come on, everyone gets compared to Radiohead) aside, the sheer wall of sound this instrumental gives off is breathtaking. It remains my personal favourite. Singles "Black Dollar Bills" and "The Red, The White, The Black, The Blue" stand out, as they would. The latter being a more instant song than the former, with its hoarse vocals and venom, mixed with the violins and the jarring guitars. There are highs and lows, good points and bad points on this album. A special low might be that vocalist Sam Herlihy isn't really the most proficient singer in the world, but he does his job. His snarls are acidic, but his "soft" voice isn't really as soft as it maybe should have been. However, with Hope of the States it is all about emotion, something he does very well. It's more melancholic than a manic depressive with a notepad full of poetry. To me, that spells out "brilliance".
The only negative side to the album as a whole, is that many of the songs are slow, piano numbers. This makes the whole album less accessible, it requires more spins in the player before it's "there". Of course, the band probably got sick of playing rocky, fast tracks ala "The Red...". It's not that the slower songs aren't good, they are, but they do require a bit more listening than the other tracks. Some are outright boring too, like "Don't Go to Pieces", which just drags on for what seems eternities. However, this is a small price to pay, really, as the songs grow on you. Besides, most of the album remains interesting; the massive sound Hope of the States creates is breath-taking, and they actually say something intelligent, unlike bands like Jet, Razorlight, Whoever.
There's been a lacking of a band like Hope of the States, bands that draw upon melancholy, anger and intelligence, whilst mixing it with something other than punk music."The Lost Riots" is refreshing, and proves that people who look like the next garage-rock act actually can play, even if their hair would say otherwise. Lyrically, it's about having your dreams crushed, about tragic love that never works out, and a fair share of anti-establishment politics.
Even if it's flawed, shambling at times, you need this album. It will be one of the most important albums this year, you mark my words.
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