The Black Hats – Austerity For The Hoi Polloi

This record does exactly what you’d expect from The Black Hats. It has noise and catchy riffs which some say is all you need in the world of Pop Punk and, it has to be said, these guys do it well. Nick’s aggressive and raspy vocal cuts through the mix really well. The lyrics and LP title are both reminiscent of the likes of The Jam: a little bit of socialism doesn’t go amiss amongst the plethora of indie bands that overwhelm the music scene. It is very pleasing to have a record with some sort lyrical intent and coherent philosophy compared to the usual interconnection of compound adjectives and the like. In this sense this record is fairly refreshing.

‘You Make Us What We Are’ and ‘Death by Record’ although big and bold in terms of their soundscapes are lacking in enough variation to keep the listeners interest; maybe it’s the fact that my ears are tuned to listen for hidden subtlety but I can’t take 3 minutes of pure aggression. ‘Blood and Space’ features some really catchy and spacey riffs and the wonderful power chord pre-chorus but the chorus is just too busy for my liking – I can’t hear the powerful pop vocal hook that this track needs.

‘Just Fall’ however really hits spot. It has the angular guitar riffs, the steady drums and the ominous bass: there is a sense of tension and building, which the chorus releases. The synth riff adds that little bit extra with holds the track together. Finally, ‘Kick In The Doors’ does the same – the song keeps on driving but we can hear variation. This is the powerful sound that The Black Hats need. The last two tracks of the album are truly excellent but I feel that the first four are little bit over strained and over stylised. Don’t be afraid of the pop chorus: there is a reason why it’s popular.



Released on May 25th 2012