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Album Review: TBA

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Album Review: Hamfatter - What Part Of Hamfatter Do You Not Understand?

“As Seen On TV” shouts the graphic on the front of Hamfatter’s debut album - and indeed, the ex-Cambridge University music graduates are fresh from extracting £75,000 from one of the moneybags on Dragon’s Den. The initial furore over the event appears to have died down but Hamfatter are keen to wring all the extra exposure they can out of it… and why the Hell not?

‘The Girl I Love’, the lead single from their new album ‘What Part Of Hamfatter Do You Not Understand?”, serves as a gentle introduction to their reflective indie pop. Eoin O’Mahony softly sings of resisting sexual temptation to a backdrop of chugging guitars and digitised backing harmonies. It offers very little in the way of effective hooks or variety, seemingly happy to simmer along without ever threatening to boil over.

‘Karma’, by contrast, is a multi-faceted rock out with it’s unaccompanied half-sang, half-spoken introduction leading into fizzing guitars and hammered piano. O’Mahony’s vocal explores a range that flits from simple two-note sneering to glorious lilting highs. With a mighty mid-song dropout, a catchy repeated riff and funky, pummelled bass all contained within the complex song structure there is an endless backdrop of intertwining threads to fascinate.

There is certainly an element of frustration at their inability to lock-down a style that they are both comfortable with and which isn’t formulaic. There’s ’21st Century Sex’ sounding, as it does, like Badly Drawn Boy covering one of Divine Comedy’s scattier songs - the problem here is O’Mahony’s vocal just doesn’t stand up to such comparisons. Then there‘s ‘How Sweet It Is’, seemingly a play on the Marvin Gaye classic. It’s replete with strings and piano (nicely arranged as it happens) but with the vocal disintegrating into a Morrissey-styled whine the whole thing becomes too much and begins to parody itself.

As it stands, Hamfatter appear to need one hefty dose of Ritalin. The unsettled nature of this album improves with repeated plays with a few of the songs sticking out above the rest (’Karma’, ’I Want To Be You’ and, to some extent, ‘Down Tonight‘) but there is far too much that merely mimics for their instant hit of fame to allow them to reap the full benefits. A hamfatter is, apparently, a third-rate minstrel - enough said.

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