The Hazey Janes are a bright, folk pop foursome from Dundee who take their name from a song by Nick Drake. They formed back in 1999 and they’ve already had considerable success north of the border, playing a support slots for Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci and Snow Patrol and doing their thing at this year’s T In The Park. They’re a strong, confident live act and this six track eponymously titled mini-album should gain them wider recognition across the UK.
The band are made up of three blokes and one girl, Liam Brennan, Andrew Mitchell, and siblings Alice and Matthew Marra, who all boast amusingly mix-and-match hair-dos. Though Brennan takes main vocal duties he is always back up by the other band members and together they produce a series of very listenable three-part harmonies. It’s a sweet, easy sound, with the inevitable tinge of melancholy outweighed by a poppier sensibility.
With this self-titled debut the Hazey Janes have produced a perfectly good showcase for their music; the album is a breezy collection of upbeat three-minute melodies. Opening track After All is a brilliant way to begin, a bouncy piece of guitar-led power pop, by far the catchiest of the six songs featured here. Find A Way has a definite country quality that utilises their vocal harmonising to its best effect and Of My Life is equally sweet, though lyrically they’re not doing anything too original, relying on the vocals to lift the song up.
Isabelle has a catchy if slightly sugary chorus that makes copious use of words like “sunshine” and “rainbow;” the song that follows, Going Home, is far less perky and better for it. The mini album closes with the gentle, slowed down Morning Rain, a bittersweet hymn to the passing of summer (“leaves are falling…”) that provides a fitting fade out.
The Hazey Janes cite Big Star and Velvet Crush as influences and you can certainly feel that in their material. Its seems a shame though that Alice Marra, the sole girl in the group, is restricted to providing a texture to the harmonies. Her contribution is nice enough, but with fellow Scots The Delgados in mind, you do wonder what a greater female vocal input would do for their sound.
Produced by Mark Freegard, who in the past has worked with the Manic Street Preachers, the Hazey Janes debut is an undeniably pretty thing but for such a brief collection of songs it does sound rather samey. This is unfortunate as, having seen them live, it’s clear they’re capable of a lot more. On stage they’ve got a fun, punky vibe that just isn’t fully captured here. Despite that, there’s enough on this release to arrest your attention and make you curious about what they’ll do next.