Album Reviews

Half Man Half Biscuit – No-One Cares About Your Creative Hub So Get Your Fuckin’ Hedge Cut

(Probe Plus) UK release date: 18 May 2018


Half Man Half Biscuit - No-One Cares About Your Creative Hub So Get Your Fuckin' Hedge CutA few years ago, Canadian indie poppers Alvvays played the Leadmill in Sheffield. During a break between songs, lead singer Molly Rankin looked around at the posters advertising upcoming gigs at the venue. “Half Man… Half Biscuit?” she mused out loud. “Is that actually a real band?”. The roar of approval that greeted her question proved that not only are they a real band, but something of a national institution.

The songs of Nigel Blackwell may not have hit Toronto just yet, but they’ve been an essential soundtrack to a certain section of British life for over 30 years. By now, you can almost predict what a Half Man Half Biscuit album sounds like before you’ve even heard it – short, punky blasts of melodic noise with lyrics that are both laugh-out-loud funny and impossibly profound. Despite their reputation, they’re not really a comedy band: a song such as Rock N Roll Is Full Of Bad Wools on 90 Bisodel so beautifully skewers the way that bands have to promote their music that there’s a case to be made for Blackwell to be considered one of pop culture’s great satirists.

Their history is already filled with moments of legend: the time they opted not to perform on The Tube as the filming coincided with a Tranmere Rovers home game, the time that Westward Ho! Massive Letdown was rewritten as a Trip Advisor review, and the fact that Joy Division Oven Gloves became the unlikely theme to Save 6Music when the BBC threatened it with closure. The band’s 14th album, No-One Cares About Your Creative Hub So Get Your Fuckin’ Hedge Cut, is packed with more moments that demonstrate exactly why the band’s army of fans hold them in such affection.

No-One Cares… is far more upbeat than 2014’s Urge For Offal, with the majority of the album’s 14 tracks fizzing with more energy than a band half their age can muster. And just a quick glance at the tracklisting shows that we’re on familiar HMHB territory – Knobheads On Quiz Shows, Harsh Times in Umberstone Covert and Swervin’ The Checkatrade already sound like Blackwell classics, and there’s the usual references to cycling, TV shows and the music business.

Alhouse Futsal scoots out of the blocks at what sounds like 200mph, with Blackwell making sneering references to “softly spoken friends, with their fortnight in the Fens” the sort of people who enjoy “picnics with craft beer, Elbow in Delamere”. Similar ire is directed at the self-explanatory Knobheads On Quiz Shows – “What possessed you to apply? Did your friends with good advice implode?” asks Blackwell – and organisers of a “bat walk in Royden Park, Frankby” whose myriad of rules inspires a shout-along chorus of “who the fuck are you, trying to govern everybody’s bat walks?”

There’s even an impressively meta reference in Bladderwrack Allowance, which tells the tale of a man who’s dragged his partner to a Half Man Half Biscuit gig. She may be fantasising about “home sweet home, Gogglebox, wine”, while the audience heckle “do that one about the Zuiderzee”. It’s not a successful date, to which Blackwell responds “Sue the dating agency, they should have sent you Robert from Blaby, in his Merc”, adding for good measure, “Blaby’s in Leicestershire”.

As ever with Half Man Half Biscuit though, there’s a lot more depth here than may be expected. Terminus is an unexpectedly moving paen to ageing and mortality – “time creeps up unseen, and it puts me back at the front of the bus, hands I once held no longer there, grey falls on the green as I try and get used to me and not us, where I’m going I’m not sure that I care” is a pretty beautiful way of describing loss, even if a reference to Inter Milan is never far round the corner.

Closing track Swerving The Checkatrade is an almost romantic one, with a line sure to be greeted with delight in Suffolk of “let me gaze upon your curves, instead of Ipswich Town reserves”. It’s the perfect way to sign off an album by a band who, now that The Fall are sadly no more, are probably the last great survivors of ’80s indie rock. Maybe even Molly from Alvvays will buy this one.


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More on Half Man Half Biscuit
Half Man Half Biscuit – No-One Cares About Your Creative Hub So Get Your Fuckin’ Hedge Cut
Half Man Half Biscuit – 90 Bisodol (Crimond)
Half Man Half Biscuit @ Point, Cardiff
Half Man Half Biscuit @ Boardwalk, Sheffield


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