Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Fruit Tones/Pink Teens - Hamlovers

Album review by kev@thesoundofconfusion.co.uk

Firstly, this split cassette and download album is not only from two bands, but two labels (Lock Ness Monster Records and Only Joking Records), both based in Manchester. This isn't a Cassette Store Day release, which brings me to a brief rant. Point one: there are no "cassette stores" except maybe a one-off novelty thing somewhere, and point two: the slagging off of the format from some quarters. I bought my first single on 7" as cassette singles didn't exist at the time, the following year I bought my first album on cassette. It was easier and cheaper. Yes, I recorded songs off the radio and other people's tapes. If I hadn't then this site might not exist. Cassettes were not a waste of space, they were a cheap and useful tool for many music fans and upcoming bands, although their appeal now seems more to do with nostalgia. Cheaper? You can burn off a stack of CDs for bugger all at home.

To the songs before I get too carried away... 'Hamlovers' has five tracks by each band, one each side. Side A is dedicated to Fruit Tones who comprise of members from other bands on the Manchester scene, and what a joyous discovery they are. I guess you could say this is in the true spirit of the format, and mentioning C86 gives you an inkling of their indiepop/punk/DIY sound. They also owe a huge debt to those classic lost 45s of the 1960s that fans dedicate their lives to discovering. 'Coconut Shy' and 'One Foot Loose' have crisp, surfy guitar and vocals that sound as though they were recorded without a mic in an outside toilet. These are delightful pop songs. 'Fresh Bites' is a little too lacklustre to cut the mustard, but then they arrive back with a bang on the sublime indiepop of 'Sheriff', a track that shows off their wonderful melodies and skewed production. They end their half in style with a Temple Songs cover, and we have one top new find to add to the list.

Pink Teens are, as you may expect, not totally dissimilar. The opening seconds of 'Flying Colours All The Way!' have "lost psych 45 from 1967" tattooed on their forehead, yet there's also the faint whiff of shoegaze filling out the space. A neat cover of Peace Signs' 'Hands Are Shaking' fits naturally into their set and again jumps between the '60s and the later jangle-pop merchants. More melodies spill out of the speakers. On 'Porcine Scene' they manage to make everything sound slightly warped, which probably means that by the time this tape is twenty years old it'll sound like perfectly normal song. The first real deviation on this release is 'Lemon', at just over four-minutes it's a comparative epic, and one that's dramatically uneventful. In fact the whole song is spent waiting for it to kick in, which it never does. It's a bit like Fleetwood Mac's 'Albatross' in a coma. Wrapping things up, 'Late Night World' is a sweet lo-fi track that feels like an ending; a closure of what is a fabulous lesson in melody and the delights of making music that may be done on a shoestring, but sounds at times like those melodies and jangles were heaven sent.

Fruit Tones' website

Pink Teens' website

Stream or buy the album

For more news, reviews and downloads follow The Sound Of Confusion on Facebook or Twitter