Album Reviews

I Heart Hiroshima – Tuff Teef

(Valve) UK release date: 13 October 2008

First of all, and this needs to be said, will people start learning to start play the bass please?

I Heart Hiroshima are the latest in a line of bands to go without one, and although it doesn’t affect them too much, I do miss the solid booming bottom end in a lot of records by the likes of Blood Red Shoes, and The White Stripes (although even they gave in to the lure of the bass in the end).

So, there’s no bassist, but there are two guitarists, one hell of a drummer, and three perfect vocalists to be found in I Heart Hiroshima. Already creating something of a stir in their native Australia, it’s only a matter of time before they start making a name for themselves on a wider scale.

Opening things up with the positively laid back Lungs, I Heart Hiroshima lull you into a false sense of security before really letting things go. Susie Patten’s delicate vocals take the lead which while drenched in a sense of longing hide a distinct air of menace. Enter the unhinged rambling yelp of Matt Somers, who ramps up the already tense atmosphere that’s developing.

It reminds us of the first time we heard Celebration, or PJ Harvey: it’s gentle and wired, and given to fits of sheer petulance.

From here on out things get distinctly spikier. I Heart Hiroshima deal in simplistic post-punk guitar lines intertwining to great effect. They retain melody whilst hinting at a chaos that lurks just below the surface, which is their greatest asset. They rarely get lost in noise for noise sake; instead they focus on making a beautifully hectic framework to hang their carefully constructed vocal duets.

It’s not unlike Sonic Youth during their Goo period – challenging but accessible and exciting with the duelling vocals so close to those of Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore, it’s uncanny.

At times, such as on Got Bones they’re aggressive, and occasionally they�re brooding such as on Teef (as song whose refrain “I’ve got Teef, You’ve got None” probably precipitated a nightmare about my teeth falling out in a particularly gruesome manner).

No matter the mood they never forget to keep things interesting and melodic. Tuff Teef teeters enjoyably on the brink between dischord and pop but I Heart Hiroshima don’t seem concerned about making clever statements or sticking to a particular aesthetic rigidly. The clever interplay of vocals and guitars suggests a band that revels in playing off of each other, for each other.

Perhaps I was wrong, the introduction of a bassist might upset the dynamic of the band and on this evidence, that would be a disaster.

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I Heart Hiroshima – Tuff Teef