I’ve been sat on this album for ages, having been lucky enough to get it super-early before release. As a result I’ve been able to enjoy it over the summer months, which is the perfect time to wallow in its wonderfulness. The simple fact that I’ve had the album for so long and I’m still listening to it says a lot. We get a ridiculous amount of music to review here at Moshville Times and, good as much of it is, very little gets to be listened to in my “down time” afterwards.
When we spoke to Ryan a couple of months ago, he said he was aiming for an album that would be perfect for listening to as you drove around with the top down. This is both spot on and annoying. He’s nailed it with the music, but taken the words out of my mouth that I wanted to use. So let me expand… if you don’t have a convertible car then find a friend who works for the fire/rescue services and who has access to a set of those “jaws of life” things. Get them to snip the roof off your car so it is now open-topped. And now you can enjoy this album at its best. Yes, it’s worth it. No, I won’t pay to have your car repaired when winter arrives.
Opener “Be Kind, Rewind” had big, brassy overtones but a simple message – no matter how crap your day’s been, be nice to everyone else and they’ll help you pull through. Yeah, when I write that down it sounds cheesy. But listen to it, especially in the car during one of the 3-minute sunny spells we’ve been enjoying in Glasgow recently, and it’s simply spellbinding. You’ll hopefully have heard “Karaoke With No Crowd” by now – and if you haven’t then it’s embedded below – and it’s another creatively phrased ballad with a chorus that’s not afraid to just go “La-la-la”. Hey, people sold millions with choruses like that in the 60’s.
Hell of a Day manages to be a feel-good album despite some of the songs being somewhat downbeat in terms of subject matter. Think of the likes of Bowling For Soup’s “Bitch Song” which takes relationship troubles and gives them a humorous spin. Hamilton’s “Respond To My Email (You Bitch)” is his equivalent, being stupidly light and airy but with a bitter edge to it that makes it all the more enjoyable. It also has a bit of nerd in it which appeals to this computer teacher.
It’s not all snide sideswipes at inattentive potential partners though. “Records and Needles”, for example, is a simply beautiful thank you note to the rock-and-rollers of yesteryear which takes their musical style on board.
I could go on.
“Medicine” is a tad more rock/country and probably more upbeat than anything else on the album in terms of getting a dancefloor heaving. It borrows heavily from the rock’n’roll influences cited in “Records and Needles” and blends them together perfectly. I can just picture men with quiffs and leather jackets spinning hourglass-shaped women wearing flowery frocks around in circles to this one.
“Freak Flag” is a cracking shout out for those who should be celebrating their differences rather than feeling put down by those with smaller brains. “4 Letter Verb” is one of the most upbeat, catchy love songs I’ve ever heard.
“Love Is Such A Chore” could have been written for a John Hughes film. It’s got that perfect 1980’s teen rom-com vibe to it. Honestly, wait till that “Do-do” chorus with the acoustic guitars and tell me you can’t imagine a montage of shots featuring our young couple finally getting together about 75 minutes of “hating” each other.
“I Love You A Lot” is obviously a soppy love song and, again, it’s ideal car fodder if you have someone gorgeous to sing it to/with while heading down the highway into the sunshine. If you don’t then it’s a great song to feel sad to until you find them.
A cover of REO Speedwagon’s “Take It On The Run” takes up one spot on the album and my only complaint is that the original material is so damn good, it’s a shame not to have another Hamilton-penned number instead. Having said that, this is a brilliant cover and in terms of tone and style fits perfectly with the rest of the songs.
Ryan has put together a superb collection of songs with the help of a handful of guest artists and has created not just the album of the summer (although it’s being release damn close to autumn!), but one of the best albums I’ve heard in years.
For those who want the tl;dr version of this review, here it is:
I. Fucking. Love. This. Album.
Now go and pre-order it. Unless it’s out by the time you read this in which case buy it. And another copy for a friend. And one for someone who doesn’t like you so much. They’ll change their tune by way of thanks.