By Luke Unger
'The youthful, carefree surfer attitude the music once embodied has given way to a far more developed, introspective album'. Luke Unger reviews Blend Inn, the latest album from surf-rock duo Hockey Dad, due to be released in February on LAB Records.
Breaking onto the scene in 2014 with their EP Dreamin', it’s incredible to see how much Hockey Dad’s style has changed over these past 4 years with their latest album ‘Blend Inn’. The youthful, carefree surfer attitude the music once embodied has given way to a far more developed, introspective album.
Due to be released February the 9th on the Manchester indie label, LAB Records with producer John Goodmanson, there’s a real sense of homesickness within this album. The title Blend Inn apparently comes from the band’s feelings when on tour. ‘Blend Inn is the part of your head that you want to go to when you’re overseas and wishing you were back home, it’s within,’ says drummer Fleming in an interview with Consequence of Sound. ‘We’re always just trying to be comfortable and semi blending in, so it’s the name we gave to that place you zone out to.’
Songs like ‘Where I Came From’, ‘Join the Club’ and ‘Danny’ offer a jazzier, more melancholic side to Hockey Dad not seen before. Heavier guitar drenched choruses mixed with cleaner, soulful melodies lead to an undulating experience that dips and spikes from track to track. The album feels less like music to be performed but more of a catharsis, an honest conversation between Stephenson and Fleming, reflecting on the touring realities of the music industry and its demanding requirements.
Whilst, on the whole the album is stylistically pretty cohesive, tracks such as ‘Disappoint Me’ and ‘Stalker’ offer repetitive, more aggressive choruses. While lyrically, these tracks are refreshingly honest, unfortunately the music comes across in these instances as slightly bland; the album contains absolute gems but, at the same time, songs such as these almost seem to be filler tracks. In a comment to Consequence of Sound, the band describes the album making process as ‘a bit of a haze’, which, when considering the space (both geographical and mental) Hockey dad were in producing the album, makes sense.
Remnants of the older Hockey Dad shine through what could be considered a sadder album with tracks such as ‘Homely Feeling’ and ‘Sweet Release’, the latter sung by the very Australian sounding Billy Flemming. It’s nice to see that the duo seeks to retain the intrinsic Australian identity that offers so much character to this band.
This album needed to be produced. Regardless of certain tracks that aren’t perhaps necessarily to the previous quality Hockey Dad have produced in the past, the lyrics contained within this album are frighteningly open. Whilst selfishly I would love Hockey Dad to produce tracks reminiscing of their earlier music, this album sets a poignant milestone in their development as a band. Unrelentingly authentic, Hockey Dad are here to stay.
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'Blend Inn', by Hockey Dad is due to be released in February 2018, on LAB Records.