These days you can make a great debut album, and it will be one of hundreds, thousands released that year, destined to be heard by everybody or nobody. There’s no art to making music, just like there’s no art to making art. Call it what you want. Put it where you will. See who takes notice. One of those great, but largely ignored, debut albums of last year was Hatcham Social‘s You Dig The Tunnel, I’ll Hide the Soil.
Cloaked in a kind of school-boy slash art school wistfulness of songs about girls called Penelope, playing out on the sidewalk or reciting from Jabberwocky, it was both skilful and melodic, and dark and daring, embodying the spirit of classic English 80’s pop, restoring it to its proper firmament. Originally released in a limited ‘how the fuck do you get a copy?’ edition of 100 on 10 inch vinyl with fan drawn sleeves (the fan who drew mine really needed to try harder), “Sidewalk” has now been released as a digital download for those who missed out.
A 6 track taster of new, familiar, demoed and covered, “Sidewalk” hastens the accomplished listener down the road to album number 2, while allowing us to pause and wonder where that road will take Hatcham Social. With two songs taken from You Dig The Tunnel, both “Sidewalk” (the song that gives the album its curious title) and previous single “Crocodile” shed light on the band through separate lenses, “Crocodile” being the more immediate pop whimsy, while “Sidewalk” takes a dreamy, romantic approach with a bassline reminiscent of a snails-pace rendition of The Cure’s “Primary”.
Remixes of the title track by The Horrors and Breton Labs are hit and miss, with The Horrors remodelling the tune into a shoegaze snowstorm, which is marginally more palatable than Breton Labs ‘dance’ mix. New track “Wild Creatures” is like a 3 minute breakfast of The Jam and Orange Juice, while “King Kong” sounds uncannily like early-90’s also-rans Adorable (“Sistine Chapel Ceiling”, Caleb?). A playful romp through the Beach Boys immortal “Surfin’ Safari” adds to the eccentric vigour the band ply into their craft. Onward and upward.