"Fathers" by Black Hat Brigade

Wolf Parade. It seems that everyone that talks about the new Black Hat Brigade album is legally required to make one reference to that band, so that is the first and last time I will mention that name. The comparison is not completely out there, since there are indeed some similarities, especially in some of the vocal stylings... but BHB is more than a ripoff band. Much more.
"Fathers" is billed as an EP, and while it is only seven songs -- eight, if you could the separate-track reprise of the last song, Vera -- it clocks in at about 32 minutes; almost as long as some other full length releases I have picked up recently. And those 32 minutes are packed with some of the best and most unique music I have heard so far this year.

From the opening track, the anthemic Kitchen Party, you get a sense of the awesomeness to come, and then the first single, Zombie City Shakes, just blows the listener away. Catchy as hell, with a spooky theremin (or theremin-sounding device) dropped in, this song alone is what prompted me to pick up the album. "Fathers" is a short piece, almost an interlude before the epic Signal Fire, which has a Maritime-y, evil-sea-shanty vibe and goes from calm to chaotic at the drop of a (high) hat. Castlevania is my favourite off the album and, as you might guess from the name, features some brilliant 8-bit-esque sounds that seem ripped straight from a haunted castle level in Super Mario with vocals added on. It's a song that easily could have sounded ridiculous, in the hands of a lesser band, but they not only pull it off, they make it superb. From this point, with Lost Boys, the album slows down a bit with the last two songs, showcasing the bands softer side and giving them even more depth. Finally, the captivating duelling vocals on Vera build the song to a climax and leads into the albums final track, Vera (reprise), which is soft and piano based, and turns out to be a perfect epilogue for the whole album.

Behind the incredibly catchy -- and insanely dancible -- melodies and hooks, however, are dark (and sometimes even gruesome) lyrics. The songs are deep and layered, both musically and lyrically, and finds the perfect balance and shows you don't have to be simplistic to be catchy, or pretentious to be complex. There is more substance to this 32 minute EP than albums I have heard from albums twice as long.
Forget calling this my favourite EP of the year, there is a very good chance of it being one of my favourite albums overall.

download Signal Fire

Download Castlevania

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