The Hickey Underworld’s ‘I’m under the house, I’m dying’ is a raw piece of production. It is like The Strokes being caressed by Fugazi, and it is definitely possible that “If your arse doesn’t shake to this, you could be dead.” This is filthy dirty pop-laden grunge, and The Hickey Underworld is enjoying their newfound fame with album number two, meaning Antwerp is finally on the musical map.
There are some truly weird and attractively offensive music videos, tongue in cheek descriptions of creating hobo perfume, the opening of sex shops and guitarist Jonas Govaerts’ description of his ear infection. This band are laying down a different gauntlet to most. Unashamedly weird and out there, they are driving the creative field of possibility down all avenues with their latest release.
Some critics have made comparisons with The Mars Volta in some of the ambience and off beat riffage, but it would not be fair on The Mars Volta to call it competition. It is the crescendo of noise, subtly balanced with the more melodic interludes that remind the ears of Cedric and co. but to be fair to The Hickey Underground, the sound they produce is individually effective and it works okay.
There is definitely potential here, especially if they can create similar song writing skills as they do in ‘Year of the Rat.’ It’s a sign of something good to come. Having said that, whether the fickle ears of many who have had their fill of The Mars Volta, The Strokes, Kasabian and G’N’R want anything along these lines again is to be seen.
‘The Frog’ is a slight change of tack, a different slant on the first few songs and offers some great guitar work. ‘A Cold Embrace’ is much of the same and again the highlight is in some nice sounding pinched guitar work.
‘Martian’s Cave’ is a chance to mellow down, but to be fair it hasn’t felt yet like we need this. The band makes good use of pedals and synths to make this feel a lot like an 80’s sci-fi soundtrack, but by this stage in the album, it is hard not to get a bit bored of the very similar beat, which resonates throughout every track.
This album is a good release from an area of Europe where there has never been anything good musically, ever. So this would be fresh and exciting, if Belgium was the only country to release music like this that hadn’t been done before and better. If you want an album that takes you by the scruff of the neck and fucks your senses for just over an hour, give ‘De-Loused in the comatorium’ another listen.