the first release in almost 19 years for Tyneside band HUG
Opening song 'Clay' kicks off brilliantly with a slice of jangling guitar for a few seconds before the drums crash into place reinforcing the entire sound with a steadying blend of clashing cymbals and probing drumbeat that collectively builds into a catchy, lush tinted retro tune pulled straight from the 90's. Vocalist Gemma Wilson unfurls a tremendous voice that almost spits parts of the vitriol at you - and the 'la la la la' she launches herself into after delivering the line 'I've given up missing sex' is sheer poetic majesty. The slow starting 'Kingdom Come', a B-side from their 1994 EP 'Firebrands' expands as it multiplies and picks up a pacier guitar/drums dynamic as Gemma Wilson Pitt's vocal soars above the probing guitars, and cracks into something between grunge and Sinead O Connor, as the sound of each instrument mesh together in fevered resonance, she volleys the vocal 'lead us not into temptation, kingdoms come and kingdoms die' with the fervour of a revolutionist before leading the song flawlessly to it's end. The indie/pop skip of 'This Dark Eden' merely jaunts a distraction around the voracious angst that casually drips from the mouth of Gemma Wilson.....'there are shards to cut me open' she lightly tells us, before moving on to announce ' you twist you shake and when it comes apart you break' as the music rarely shifts from the happy exterior created. HUG are riddled with darkness underneath all that exuberance, it seeps through the songs and lies in thick pools at their feet, perfectly fitting the hollowed out shapes of their internal backbiting torments.
.'Kaleid' from their 1991 EP of the same name, is a fired up, alt-dance tune anthem somewhere between The Charlatans and Primal Scream's expressive guitar driven drug anthems with Gemma Wilson sounding remarkable among the funk-oozed indie mashed hybrid. The searing raw edged 'Meltdown' from the 'Firebrands' single is followed by another perfectly weighted vocal delivery by Gemma Wilson on the funk-laden 'Insatiable' a song which owes everything to fine guitar playing and canny vocal nouse. She forgets the title of next song 'Walk On Fire' dismissing it with a 'oh I can never remember it's name, but it was a hit single actually' ....before the band tear into it.....and finish off with the brilliant 'Clay'.
I missed out on HUG first time around - the early 90's for me dissapeared under a cloud of detached puzzlement and spiralling bouts of god knows with a cast of unnamed bullshit conversationalists. But hearing them now I can fully appreciate the 90's critical worshipping. Hug are/were an inventive, forward thinking group of people who wrote great songs and played them even better. Their short life is tall history and if they ever decide to give HUG another run around the music scene they'd be effortless achievers once more.
*Published In Subba Cultcha*