High Hazels Dazzle In The Dark With New EP
High Hazels are not the first, and won’t be the last, band to take a dip into Scott Walker’s late 1960’s kitchen sink melancholia.
James Leesley croons his way through this 5-track EP with little release from “punctured skies” and nightmares “played by violins” on the “cold side of the bed”.
It’s a departure, lyrically and musically from the light-touch of the band’s previous hyper-melodic singles - and remarkable self-titled debut album - though just as affecting.
Whereas once content to “misbehave” in some dank Sheffield back alley, now Leesley yearns commitment to the end of time, or “at least until it’s light” on ‘Wild Waves’.
With maturity, comes subtlety, depth and artistry from a wider pallet of influences. The twitchy percussion and Scott Howes’ swooping guitar runs on ‘Sequin Eyes’ suggest Grizzly Bear’s Shields LP.
Elsewhere, the torch of Northern miserablism fires brightly in ‘Pitch Black Night’ with Anthony Barlow’s ‘Atrocity Exhibition’ esque drum rolls and a hint of wurlitzer that echoes rainy summers past at Blackpool Tower.
Like Walker before them, High Hazels are not afraid to explore the lugubrious side of English mundanity, but ultimately offer something uplifting.
A soundtrack to the brisk days and seemingly endless cold nights of winter, yes. But, this is a band in the spring of something special and, hopefully, longer lasting.